In Pictures: Builders please Gods to create posh Roman villa for Wroxeter Roman City

By Culture24 Staff | 10 January 2011
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A photo of builders working on a building
© Channel 4
Workmen have built a huge villa on haunted land at the fourth-largest Roman settlement in Britain as part of a television series lauded as “the ultimate exploratory archaeology project”.

English Heritage and Channel 4 have recreated a villa urbana – a townhouse used as a country retreat by upper class Roman families – using traditional Roman methods at Wroxeter Roman City in Shropshire.

A photo of a mosaic
© English Heritage
The six-part documentary reveals how six builders had to win approval from the spirit world before they began using their ancient tools on the development, designed by professors from Chester University based on buildings excavated at the renowned tourist attraction.

“The series is immensely entertaining and an eye-opener,” said English Heritage boss Dr Simon Thurley, calling it “a great way to approach history.”

A photo of the outside of a villa
© English Heritage
“I urge everyone to come to Wroxeter and see for themselves the remarkable replica they have built and appreciate the energy and ingenuity that defined so much of the Roman era.”

The team behind the filming secured planning permission and started building in summer 2010, using a protective raft above the ground to protect archaeological remains in the area. Wroxeter hosts municipal baths left over from the 2nd century fortress and civilian city.

A photo of the inside of a Roman villa
© English Heritage
“This is the ultimate exploratory archaeology project,” added Julian Ware, from programme creators Darlow Smithson Productions.

“We hope that by rebuilding this villa we will be able to offer a real insight into the thoughts and processes of the Roman engineers.”

A photo of building work in a green field
© Channel 4
Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day starts on Channel 4 on January 20 2011 at 9pm. The villa will be open to the public daily from February 19 2011.
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