Romans are coming to Chedworth Roman Villa

The Romans are coming to Chedworth (c) Roman Military Research Society

Chedworth Roman Villa is hosting a week-long re-enactment event with the Roman Military Research Society re-creating Roman military and civilian life.

The Roman Military Research Society study, investigate and perform practical experiments to re-create, as accurately as possible, Roman military and civil life.  They demonstrate the skills of the Roman Army and Romano-British people, including infantry, artillery, archery and everyday customs.

A taste of Roman cooking at Chedworth (c) Roman Military Research Society

A taste of Roman cooking at Chedworth (c) Roman Military Research Society

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Roman mosaic unearthed at Chedworth

 

During a live dig at Chedworth Roman Villa this week a team of National Trust archaeologists have unearthed Roman mosaics which haven’t been seen for at least 150 years.

 The new archaeological excavations of the North Wing at Chedworth Roman Villa are surprising and delighting not just the visitors but the archaeologists themselves, as this new mosaic of a grand Roman reception room has just been discovered, which no-one knew existed. Visitors can watch the live dig, and view these new mosaics until Friday 29 August – and yet more exciting discoveries could still be made. Continue reading…

Chedworth ‘time team’ digs deep

This summer, follow the live action as National Trust’s very own ‘time team’ of archaeologists and volunteers painstakingly work away to uncover hidden Roman mosaics and other treasures in the North Wing of Chedworth Roman Villa.Chedworth Live dig

Over two weeks, from 18-29 August, the team is hoping to answer questions about the layout of the rooms as buried walls come to light, and maybe even uncover some hidden mosaics. As they dig, they’ll also be looking for fragments of pottery and other ancient artifacts.

From an elevated platform, visitors can follow the team’s every move as they toil away in the trenches below – and also ask them questions on the spot. This is the second year of a 5-year project to explore the North Wing. Last year just a few tantalizing strips of mosaics were exposed, so hopes are high for many more finds this summer. Continue reading…

Discovery Dome comes to Chedworth Roman Villa

Alex Auden, Operations Manager, explores the Discovery Dome at Chedworth Roman Villa (c) National Trust / Barry Batchelor

Visitors to Chedworth Roman Villa are being transported back in time this week thanks to the latest digital technology developed by the University of Bath.

A large inflatable dome has been set up on the lawns of Chedworth Roman Villa, allowing groups of visitors to experience a planetarium-style projection which brings to life the history of one of the country’s most important Roman sites. Continue reading…

New Archaeological Excavations at Chedworth Roman Villa

A team of National Trust archaeologists are carrying out new excavations at Chedworth Roman Villa during the last two weeks in August.

(c) National Trust Images - Paul Harris

Previous excavations at Chedworth © National Trust Images/ Paul Harris

Between 19 – 30 August visitors at Chedworth Roman Villa will have the opportunity to observe live archaeology and see Roman mosaic floors in the North range being uncovered that have never been on show before.

The excavations will be directed by National Trust archaeologist Dr Martin Papworth and advised by Professor Simon Esmonde-Cleary and Professor Peter Salway.

As Dr Martin Papworth explains: ‘Our aim is to evaluate the nature and quality of the surviving archaeology and see what other excavations will be needed both in archaeological and conservation terms.

‘We know this area was dug just over 50 years ago but records haven’t survived. We believe the mosaics and remains on the north range are at least as extensive and interesting and those now protected by the new West range building. So we want to assess exactly what is there and decide how best to protect them. If we are able to build another cover building, these digs will show exactly where to place it and how big it would need to be to protect the most important and fragile remains in this part of the villa.”

In 2012 Chedworth Roman Villa opened a new conservation building over the West side of the site. The new cover structure has enabled more rooms and corridors of mosaics to be displayed to the public, accessed on suspended walkways, with new interpretation and improved conservation of the Roman Villa remains. The project has recently picked up one of the three Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) awards for the South West and was one of the only two UK projects shortlisted for the prestigious World Architecture Awards.

‘The new archaeological digs are very exciting for all our staff, volunteers and visitors alike, and everyone is very curious of what will be uncovered next,’ says Sigute Barniskyte, Visitor Services Co-ordinator for the National Trust at the Villa. ‘The villa has been in the care of the National Trust since 1924, but it still holds many secrets and treasures that have not been accessed yet. These excavations will reveal answers to many questions that we still have about the site.’

The archaeological investigations this August are planned to bring a start to a programme of several years of summer excavations at the Villa. The mosaic floors that are uncovered this month will be covered up again after careful examination. Therefore anyone interested in seeing them is encouraged to visit during the last two weeks in August.

For more information about the Villa please visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/chedworth

Chedworth Roman Villa £3m project reveals mosaics

For the first time in 150 years visitors to Chedworth can have a full Roman experience, walking just above precious Roman mosaics on walkways and viewing platforms thanks to a new conservation shelter at Chedworth Roman Villa.

Opened this month, the £3 million development, which includes a refurbished visitor centre, lets people see recently excavated mosaics not seen for 150 years – with more to be uncovered over the coming year. Visitors will be able to see the archaeologists at work and also meet conservators preparing mosaics for display.

The National Trust’s project to protect the fragile remains of the villa has involved creating a new environmentally-controlled conservation shelter over the mosaics in the west range, to replace old Victorian sheds. Uniquely, the shelter rests on the original walls of the villa, recreating many of the rooms inside the villa and allowing people to experience, for the first time, the scale of the spaces the villa’s owners lived in.

To add to the experience for visitors, a new café and a refurbished visitor centre have been included in the development which has funding support from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Instead of looking into the sheds put up by the Victorians following the excavations in the 1860s, visitors will be able to enter the new Conservation Shelter and walk on suspended walkways just above the Roman floors looking down through the steel gratings and timber slatted covering. The shelter gives visitors a sense of the sights, sounds and smells which would have greeted visitors to the villa in the 4th Century, giving a glimpse into Romano-British life of 1600 years ago.

In addition, the Victorian built museum on site has been re-displayed, showing the artefacts recovered after the villa was first discovered in 1864.

‘Our archaeologists have known these extra mosaics lay hidden here at Chedworth since the Victorians reburied them but they were not as well protected underground as they could be in this new building, protected from frost and other damage,’ said Janet Gough, Property Manager.

‘Importantly the new building also allows much better access to the Roman remains and mosaics, with the walkways allowing visitors to look down on the mosaics and new ways of explaining the Roman history of Chedworth which we hope really brings the place to life.’

Kari, Ellen and Rhys, all 7 years old, from Thomas Reade Primary School, Abingdon get close ot the mosaics

National Trust archaeologist Martin Papworth said the newly revealed mosaics include one of the longest in-situ corridor mosaics in the country at 35 metres long, excavation of which will be completed in the summer.

The Victorian shelters previously displayed three mosaics in the Bath House and one in the Triclinium or dining room. The excavations will, for the first time in 150 years, allow the display of the corridor mosaics, and three others in an additional room and two short corridors.

Martin explained: ‘There is still one section of the corridor mosaic to be excavated in the centre of the corridor. We know it is where the doorway was and we hope that it might reveal a new design in the mosaics that we don’t know about. The walkways will provide ideal platforms for people to watch us this summer and see if we do find something exciting. Once excavated we are simply cleaning the mosaics and stabilising them with other conservation work to follow to ensure they remain in the condition they were found when revealed.’

Walkways above the 35m corridor mosaics

The conservation shelter and other developments are all designed to be sustainable, with air source heat pumps serving the main buildings and a rainwater harvesting system allowing scarce water supplies to go much further. The villa was built close to a natural spring, venerated in the water shrine, but the borehole which supplies it today has a very limited supply so water is harvested from the roofs of the buildings and stored in a tank under the car park and used for flushing toilets.

Unlike other cover buildings at Roman sites, the Chedworth building sits directly on the villa walls, removing the need for foundations in such an archaeologically sensitive site. The lightweight timber glulam structure has been designed to minimise the loads on the villa walls, and fixings have been carefully located so that they are not installed into any Roman masonry

‘Interest in Chedworth is growing all the time, we are welcoming more school groups to the new Salway Learning Room and with archaeologists returning in the summer to complete the excavation, we’re expecting an exciting year,’ added Janet

Alongside the conservation shelter visitors will be able to explore the north bath-house, the water-shrine and see the Roman underfloor heating system.

The project was made possible thanks to a £700,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, £150,000 from the Gloucestershire Environmental Trust with landfill tax contributions donated by Cory Environmental, a £100,000 grant from the Garfield Weston Foundation and generous donations from the Summerfield Charitable Trust, the Roman Research Trust, the Cotswold AONB Sustainable Development Fund and the Kinsurdy Trust together with a number of National Trust supporter groups and individual donors who have sponsored protective winter covers or ‘socks’ which will prevent damage to the Roman stone pillars which support the underfloor heating system over the winter.