Excavating Lullingstone Roman Villa

Lullingstone Roman Villa © David Gill
Lullingstone Roman Villa © David Gill

Lullingstone Roman villa was excavated by Lt.-Col. G.W. Meates from 1949 to 1961. A short film of the excavations was made in 1958 and is now available via the East Anglia Film Archive (EAFA) at UEA.

A post on the guidebooks from the site can be found here.

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.

1975
1975

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.

Bignor_guide

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.

Bignor_RV_guide

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.

Chocolate Heritage and Keynsham Roman Villa

Keynsham Roman Villa (n.d.)
Keynsham Roman Villa (n.d.)

One of the most unusual settings for a site is the Roman villa at Kensham that was found during the construction of the Somerdale chocolate factory for J. S. Fry and Sons (between Bath and Bristol). The excavations were conducted by Dr Arthur Bulleid and Father Ethelbert Hoare from 1922 to 1924.

J.S. Fry & Sons (“Cocoa and Chocolate Manufacturers”) issued an 8 page booklet for the remains and the finds (that were housed in the on-site museum). The booklet contained a plan of the villa as well as a number of illustrations. The booklet is undated but I suspect mid-1970s.

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).

Welwyn Roman Bath-house

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The Welwyn Roman bath-house is preserved under a special vault under the A1(M) in Hertfordshire. Details about visiting times can be found here (along with pdf guides in English, French and German). Tony Rook produced a small folded card guide (for 10p) on behalf of the Welwyn Archaeological Society (1975). A notice about the “Dicket Mead” excavation (as it was known in 1972), conducted by the Lockleys Archaeological Trust, appeared in the reprint of J.B. Ward Parkins, ‘The Roman villa at Lockleys, Welwyn’, The Antiquaries Journal 18, 4 (October, 1938) 339-76 (my copy has a pencil price of 50 p). The reprint contains a short introduction by Rook. Lockleys is close to the bath-house.

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