The Roman Empire was one of the largest ever created by a tribe of people from a City. At its height, its Borders ran from The Antonine Wall between Modern Glasgow and Edinburgh, in the North all the way down to the Dead Sea in Modern Israel. This massive area of land spanned most of Western Europe and all around the Mediterranean Sea. They brought War and Conquest, which is undisputed, but they also brought diplomacy, new ideas, technologies and social thinking that included Law and a degree of the democratic process with them as well. They rejected Kings in favour of Senators and Emperors. The Romans laid the foundations for the modern world.
It is a testament to their achievements that we are still able to see their legacy to this day. From Turkey to Toledo in Spain, from Northumbria in the North of England to Egypt, there are examples of the built heritage that they left behind. Over the years, much of it has fallen into despair. Neglected by the people following the Roman influence, their cities and outer dwellings were shunned and demolished to put the Romans’ dressed stone to other buildings. However, the remains of the Roman power can be found in some of the most unlikely places.
Some 22 miles away from the old Roman Town of Corinium, or Cirencester as it is known now, lies the Villages of Chedworth and Yanworth. A gamekeeper was wandering the woods and took a shot at a rabbit. He missed, and the exploded earth threw up some small colour stone blocks. He took the stones to the Lord of the Manor, who recognised them as being tessare from a Roman mosaic. Instructing the Gamekeeper to show him where this happened, the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeology Society was summoned. The site was soon cleared and excavated using the estate workers to reveal a set of near-complete mosaics and walls. Inadvertently, a 3rd Century Roman Villa had been discovered.
In an unusual move for the time, this was the age of the Victorian grave robbers and treasure seekers; after all, the mosaics were left in situ. In most cases, when a mosaic was discovered, it was levered up and taken to a museum in a large town. Something this size would ordinarily have ended up in the Britsh Museum in London. However, given the scale of the site, it was decided that future visitors should be able to enjoy them in the setting they were initially made. The fact that there was a Victorian hunting lodge already built there made no difference, of course!
Over the years, more and more of the site has been uncovered. It was becoming clear that this was a Villa built for luxury and comfort. Several bathhouses were discovered, a water shrine and a working latrine too. This last addition was so advanced even an expert in Drain Lining Surveys like Wilkinson Environmental would be impressed by it.