Published On: Sat, Mar 30th, 2024
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Pretty English town where archaeologists have just made a ‘remarkable’ discovery | UK | News

A 2,000-year-old Roman villa with stunning mosaics and painted walls has been unearthed on land destined to become a housing estate.

Archaeologists from the Red River Archaeology Group made what they called a “remarkable” discovery after working on a Barratt and David Wilson Homes site near Wantage, Oxfordshire.

The area where the houses are being built is known is have been inhabited since the Bronze Age and the new villa find has been dated to the first century AD.

Work on the dig is continuing and it is believed the villa structure is connected to an “aisled building” which could be some form of monumental hall built as a place of worship or pilgrimage.

Louis Stafford, Red River Archaeology senior project manager, told the BBC: “The sheer size of the buildings that still survive and the richness of goods recovered suggest this was a dominant feature in the locality, if not the wider landscape.”

Colleague Francesca Giarelli added that the buildings were “far more complex than a regular rural site and clearly was an important centre of activities for a long time”.

Ms Giarelli said: “Clearly it was an important centre of activities for a long time, from the Bronze Age to the later Roman period.”

As well as finding exciting materials, the team of archaeologists also uncovered a hypocaust, an ancient Roman heating system that circulated hot air into a hollow space under the floors in a building.

Jewellery, symbolic miniature axes, coins and complex construction methods have also been found at the dig in rural Oxfordshire.

Among the exciting decorative finds was a buckle adorned with a double-headed horse, experts believe the piece would have been worn by a high-ranking cavalry officer and dated it between 350-450AD.

Campbell Gregg, managing director for Barratt and David Wilson Homes Southern, said working with the archaeologists had helped “develop the local historical understanding and heritage”.

Wantage is known to have been a small Roman settlement after the civilisation invaded Britain in 45AD, it was later the birthplace of King Alfred the Great in the 9th century AD.

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