Woodchester Roman Villa


Part of the Woodchester mosaic, British Museum © David Gill

The Woodchester mosaic is first record in Camden’s Britannia (1695). It was partially unearthed in 1772 by Edmund Browne who made drawings of the remains. Samuel Lysons (bap. 1763–d. 1819) [ODNB] made more detailed recordings in 1794 and published a coloured drawing in 1796.

Lysons presented a small fragment of the mosaic to the British Museum in 1808.

Lysons was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 1786, and Director of the Society from 1798 to 1809. He also undertook work at Bignor.

Historic Houses Handbook

2018-03-14-0001The Historic Houses Association has been rebranded as Historic Houses. Our Historic Houses Handbook arrived this week in its new format, perhaps reminiscent in style of the handbook for Historic Scotland.

The handbook is arranged around regions: London and the South East; South West and Channel Islands; East, West Midlands; East Midlands; Yorkshire; North West; North East; Wales; Scotland; Northern Ireland. Entries are in numerical order and provide postcode (useful for the SatNav, though there is a mention of ‘good-old-fashioned map reading’ in the section on ‘Using this book’), location and opening information. There is a subtle colour theme for each section but perhaps a footer or header would help with the navigation.

There is a marked improvement in the guide and I look forward to using it to explore ‘new’ properties during the coming year.

Whithorn: museum signs


Whithorn Museum © David Gill

We have commented on the wonderful Historic Scotland museum at Whithorn. The old Ministry sign is displayed in addition to the new HES information board.


Whithorn Museum © David Gill

Above the door is an inscription in both Latin and English dating to 1730 recording the benefaction of both the parish and town (donis parochiae et urbis structa).


Whithorn Museum, inscription © David Gill

Caistor St Edmund: inscription


Inscription from Caistor St Edmund, Norwich Castle © David Gill

In 1931 Donald Atkinson discovered a fragmentary Latin inscription cut on a piece of limestone (Collingwood, R. G., and M. V. Taylor. “Roman Britain in 1931.” The Journal of Roman Studies, 22, 1932, p. 226. JSTOR). It was found at a depth of 1 foot and 6 inches [c. 45 cm] ‘beside the road flanking the east side of the forum’. Atkinson suggested that it could be linked to the construction or refurbishment of the forum.

The inscription may have read, ADAT / SVPE (RIB 214). It can be seen in Norwich Castle Museum.

Developments at the Abbey of St Edmund


Bury St Edmunds Abbey © David Gill

Historic England has indicated that the tennis courts located immediately to the east of the crypt of the abbey of St Edmund can be moved and relocated on the other side of the river (“Historic England approves relocation of Abbey’s tennis courts“, BBC News 8 March 2018). The abbey and its precinct is subject to two consultancy studies (see here).

Heritage Futures Seminar: Fragmented History


The seminar will look at how some major museums have acquired Athenian figure-decorated pots fragment by fragment. How were the fragments dispersed? When was the pot fragmented? The research will look for patterns in the acquisitions, such as sequences of gifts and sales. The situation is made more complicated as some of the pots have been returned to Italy as part of a wider investigation into the illicit trade in antiquities. How can museums adopt a more rigorous due diligence process prior to acquisition?

St Govan’s Chapel


St Govans Chapel © David Gill

St Govan’s Chapel in Pembrokeshire is set in a fold of the sea cliffs. The present chapel probably dates to the 13th or 14 centuries, although the name suggests a possibly earlier foundation.

The chapel is accessed via the Castlemartin firing ranges.


St Govans Chapel © David Gill