Guides to Lullingstone Roman Villa

Chi-Rho from Lullingstone Roman Villa (now in the British Museum)
Chi-Rho from Lullingstone Roman Villa (now in the British Museum)

Lullingstone Roman Villa was excavated by Lt.-Col. G.W. Meates from 1949 to 1961 (see English Heritage for further details). Some of the finds were placed in the British Museum, and the site was placed in the care of the Ministry of Public Buildings and Works.

Lullingstone (1969)
Lullingstone (1969)

Meates wrote a short paper paper guide for MPBW (HMSO 1958; reprinted, 1969; price 6 d). This consisted of 12 pages with a double-page plan in the centre (pp. 6-7) showing the chronological development of the villa. The main sections were:

  • Introduction
  • History and General Introduction
  • The Christian Establishment
  • The Mosaic Floors
  • The Bathing Establishment
  • The Finds
Lullingstone (1972)
Lullingstone (1972)

A booklet, also by Meates, appeared in 1963. My DOE 1972 reprint of the 1963 version uses an orange cover (rather than the usual blue). Cost: 20 p. The book is fully illustrated, with colour for the wall-paintings and the mosaics (pp. 13-14, 31-32). The Alan Sorrell reconstruction is reproduced in black-and-white in the centre. The plan folds out of the card cover.

The main sections (over 44 pages) are:

  • History and Description
  • Period I. The First Century AD
  • Period II. The Second Century AD
    • The Circular Temple
    • The Bathing Establishment
    • The Cult Rooms
    • The Kitchens
  • Period III. The Third Century AD
    • The Granary
  • Period IV. The Fourth Century AD.
    • The Mosaic Floors
    • The Christian Chapel
  • The Finds
    • Marble Portrait Busts
    • Painted Wall Plaster
    • Coins
    • Objects of Bronze, Bone and glass
    • Objects of Iron
    • Pottery
    • Skeletal Remains

The guide was using reconstructions, for example the Deep Room (p. 30) or the Ante-Chamber (p. 33), to help the visitor to visualise the space. Meates also included images of the excavations. One of the most striking includes the Roman portraits from the Deep Room (p. 38). It is also worth comparing the image of the fragmentary chi-rho wall-painting as it is reproduced in the book with the form it takes in the British Museum (and see online).

Author: David Gill

David Gill is Honorary Professor in the Centre for Heritage at the University of Kent, and an Academic Associate in SISJAC at UEA; Professor of Archaeological Heritage.

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