WINCHESTER: Beneath Our Feet, a one-day festival of archaeology proved to be such a success that a repeat in 2020 is likely.

Given the beautiful day, the 20 or so who took the chance to experience hands on “Geophysics” on Oram’s Arbour were lucky. However, the indoor activities at the Winchester Discovery Centre also proved popular. The Learning Rooms housed a crowded table-top exhibition, where representatives of Cotswold Archaeology and Pre-Construct Archaeology, Winchester Excavation Committee, Hampshire Cultural Trust, Winchester City Council, Council for British Archaeology, the University of Winchester, Hyde900, Hampshire Field Club and Archaeological Society, and WARG, the Society for Winchester Archaeology and Local History, were all busy explaining their past activities and future plans. Many of them had archaeological finds on display with some available for handling

One particularly interesting exhibit was a triptych of the Hyde 900 community dig, created by Chris Prior, garden designer, of King Alfred Terrace, Hyde.

The well-attended keynote speech, by Prof Martin Biddle, Winchester: walking in the ‘footsteps’ of Alfred the Great filled the lecture room.

Prof Biddle led many important digs in the city centre between the 1960s and 1980s hailed as among the most important in the last 100 years.

He explained that while traditionally Winchester’s regular street plan had been thought to reflect the Roman city, in the last 50 or so years it has become clear that it is instead a planned Saxon town. The High Street runs beside the Roman main street, not on top of it. It was clearly intended to be a major commercial street with the frontages on the High Street served by parallel service streets, (today’s St George’s Street to the north and St Clements Street to the South are their remains.)

Between these and the city was a grid of streets which terminated in another road running below the walls. This pattern was destroyed in the South West corner which became a political/religious centre, with a Royal palace, the minsters, the Nunnaminster, the cathedral and the Bishop’s palace.

Dick Selwood’s talk on the history of archaeology in Winchester, particularly since the 1950s, and Prof Nick Thorpe’s presentation on a Roman site in Meon Valley, which had photographs only a few hours old from this year’s dig, were both well attended.

Mr Selwood, part of the organising team, said: “Everyone involved was very happy with this year’s event and we hope to put on a bigger and better version in 2020.”