The Roman period in Britain is an intriguing time and one of my favourite eras to read about. The fact that there are still many Roman sites to visit as well adds depth and colour to research into the period. Last week I visited Chedworth Roman Villa near Cirencester in Gloucestershire, one of the largest Romano-British villas in England.
Chedworth was discovered in 1864 when a gamekeeper found some small tesserae, pieces of buried mosaic. It’s fascinating to me to think of a villa lying buried beneath the accumulated earth of almost two thousand years. When did it fall down, how was it lost, when did it’s presence and those of villas like it fade from awareness? Were bits of it still visible 500 years after the decline of Roman civilisation in the country or had it vanished even then?
The heyday of Chedworth’s villa was in the 4th century AD when it was a large and luxurious country house with underfloor heating and two bath houses. Several of the fine mosaics survive, giving a glimpse of the style and opulence of the villa. The existence of the villa also gives an insight into the peaceful times in which it flourished before the fall of Rome, the withdrawal of troops from Britain and the gradual decline of the Roman way of life. It’s a rich setting for a historical author and one which I hope to explore in my writing one day.