Roman Winter

IMG_6257Among the mosaics still in situ in the Roman villa at Bignor is a panel of winter. The room was on the west side of the complex. The villa was discovered in July 1811, and the mosaics were opened to the public in 1814. Special buildings were constructed to protect the mosaics from further damage.

Newport Roman Villa


Newport Roman villa © David Gill

The Roman villa at Newport on the Isle of Wight was discovered in 1926 (and noted in AJA [1930] JSTOR). Among the excavated remains are the bath-complex.

Notice the explanatory signs (from 1975).

Roman Sites and English Heritage


Walltown Crags, Hadrian’s Wall © David Gill

Hadrian’s Wall and Stanegate


Roman Forts

Saxon Shore Forts

Roman Towns

Roman Villas

Roman Temples

Other features

Bignor Roman Villa

Bignor Roman Villa © David Gill

Bignor Roman Villa © David Gill

The Roman villa lies to the north of the South Downs in Sussex. It was discovered in 1811 and by 1814 the site was attracting large numbers of visitors. The villa contains a series of fine mosaics protected by a series of thatched buildings.



Our earliest guide dates to October 1975. It consists of 16 pages, following a tour of the site using the plan that appears in the centre (pp. 8-9). There are simple line drawings in the text.


We also have a guide book undated, with an image of the 1812 drawing of the Venus mosaic on the cover. It contains a history of the excavations, and a ‘walk around guide and description’. It is complete with plans and colour images, as well as a colour reconstruction.


The latest guide (again undated) is essentially a revised version of the previous one. There is an additional section on ‘Farming & Countryside’, as well as a page of the ‘Covering Buildings’ constructed to protect the remains in the early 19th century, and a section on the educational programme of the villa.

For other guidebooks to Roman villas see Lullingstone, North Leigh, and Welwyn.

Guides for Chedworth Roman Villa



Chedworth Roman Villa was acquired for the National Trust in 1924. The site is located in the Cotswolds.

Sir Ian A. Richmond prepared a 15 page guide in 1966. This was revised (‘in the light of recent work on the site’) by Roger Goodburn in 1981 guide (16 pages, paper). A reconstruction was placed on the cover, and there is a double page plan of the villa in the centre showing the sequence of construction, and then a second set of plans for the bath complex in the northern range. Essentially the guide introduces the concept of the villa and then described the ‘discovery, situation and plan’ (pp. 3-4). The rest of the guide consists of a room by room guide, with a short section on the Museum (pp. 14-15).


(1979 [2002])

Goodburn prepared a more detailed illustrated guide in 1979 (my revised copy dates to 2002). This is illustrated with black and white images as well as plans. The main sections are:

  • The exploration of the site and a brief history of the villa
  • The Chedworth region in the Roman period
  • The growth of the house
  • The mosaics
  • The Museum (including a section on the coins by Richard Reece)
  • Buildings in the locality probably associated with the villa
  • The life and economy of Chedworth
  • The fate of Chedworth and its neighbours

There is a bibliography for the site.



The 2012 guide is by Simon Esmonde Cleary. It is fully illustrated in colour and has a fold out plan at the front.

The sections are:

  • Rise and fall and discovery
  • A golden age
  • The decline of the Empire
  • Springing from the earth
  • Preserved for the public
  • Landscape and layout
  • The villa’s layout
  • Life in the villa
  • Decoration
  • Religion
  • Conserving and learning
  • Open to public view
  • Concerning conservation
  • Nature conservation
  • The story so far

The rooms appear in double page spreads with plans and reconstructions, e.g. The west range, the dining room, the west bath house, the north wing, the north bath house, room for interpretation (a wonderful bit of honesty!), the south wing, the kitchen, and the latrine.

There is a section on the Museum.

There is a note about the room numbers that were assigned in the Victorian period.

I particularly like the stress on a heritage site as a home for nature conservation with lizards and a distinctive type of snail (see here).

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).

Guide to North Leigh Roman Villa


The Roman villa at North Leigh lies some 10 miles from Oxford (and is under the care of English Heritage). This was a site leased and excavated by Professor Francis Haverfield, and thus has plenty of resonances with the history of archaeology in Britain.

On my shelf is a 1973 Department of the Environment guide to the villa (cost 3p). It consists of a folded piece of A4 light card, with a plan on the inside. There is a detailed description of the remains.