Archaeologists to reveal secrets of Gloucestershire Roman villa as public excavation begins

By Ben Miller | 19 August 2015

Animal bones and tiles found by archaeologists during opening excavations at Chedworth Roman Villa

A photo of archaeologists digging brown earth at Chedworth Roman Villa
The first of 11 days of excavations at Chedworth Roman Villa© Archaeology NTSW
A mysterious set of mosaics at Chedworth, the villa in Gloucestershire where some of the country’s richest Romans lived more than 1,600 years ago, are being publically excavated by archaeologists this week.

A photo of archaeologists digging brown earth at Chedworth Roman Villa
Gravel at the site is being excavated down to the geo-textile© Archaeology NTSW
Rooms and corridors of mosaics were displayed to the public in 2012, when a new conservation building was created over the west side of the site. Eleven days of investigations will now reveal more to visitors.

A photo of green grass in front of the manor house of Chedworth Roman Villa
The position of the villa at the head of its valley© Archaeology NTSW
“We know this area was dug just over 50 years ago but records haven’t survived,” says archaeologist Dr Martin Papworth, of the National Trust.

A photo of archaeologists digging brown earth at Chedworth Roman Villa
The area in front of the north bath house was partly excavated 15 years ago© Archaeology NTSW
“Our aim is to evaluate the nature and quality of the surviving archaeology and see what other excavations will be needed both in archaeological and conservation terms.

“We believe the mosaics and remains on the north range are at least as extensive and interesting and those now protected by the new west range building. So we want to assess exactly what is there and decide how best to protect them.

A photo of grass and stones in the countryside at Chedworth Roman Villa
Glass, nails, lead, coins and Roman pottery from the 2nd to 4th century have previously been found within the villa site© Archaeology NTSW
“If we are able to build another cover building, these digs will show exactly where to place it and how big it would need to be to protect the most important and fragile remains in this part of the villa.”

A photo of a dark green coin at Chedworth Roman Villa
An early 4th century coin of Constantine the Great, found amongst the rubble of the building in 2013© Archaeology NTSW
A raised area in front of the North bath house, an apsidal room next to it and a previously examined water feature are being scrutinised during the opening days, with animal bones, flue tile and small cubes of stone among the initial discoveries.

A photo of bits of rubble and stone covered under mud at Chedworth Roman Villa
Rubble from 1,500 years ago at the villa© Archaeology NTSW
“Everyone is very curious of what will be uncovered next," admits Sigute Barniskyte, the Visitor Services Co-ordinator at the villa, who says organisers are “very excited”.

A photo of archaeological trenches being created at Chedworth Roman Villa
New paths and service trenches were excavated during the building of the west range cover building in 2011© Archaeology NTSW
“The villa has been in the care of the National Trust since 1924, but it still holds many secrets and treasures that have not been accessed yet.”

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

Three museums to discover Roman Britain in

Hull and East Riding Museum
A recreation of the centre of the Roman settlement of Petuaria (Brough), mounting pottery, glass, oil lamps and brooches in shop windows around the town square, as well as a tax-collector’s office and mosaic-maker’s workshop.

Weston Park, Sheffield
Current exhibition Traces of Empire: Decoration and Design in Roman Britain uses significant archaeological finds to look at the change in decoration and style in Britain from the period around 43 AD. Until October 30 2015.

The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, Birmingham
Inheriting Rome, the current exhibition, uses money to explore and question our deep-seated familiarity with the Roman Empire’s imagery. Until January 24 2016.
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