Large, 1,700 year old Roman villa in wooded surroundings
Chedworth Roman Villa, Gloucestershire, is one of the largest Roman villas in Britain. Accidentally discovered by a gamekeeper digging for a ferret in 1864, the owner at the time, the third Earl of Eldon, acted as a benefactor of the excavations that followed.
Most of the buildings that are visible today were uncovered following the discovery of the villa over a period of two years. A museum was also built near the site in order to catalogue any recovered artefacts. The museum is open to the public today. The initial excavations moved a large amount of debris from the collapsed walls of the villa and archaeologists found that the walls had been preserved to a considerable height by the soil that had eroded from the slopes surrounding the villa. However, the contours of the site are clearly now not as sharp as they would once have been due the collapsing of the walls of the building.
Yet the remains on the site are generally extremely well-preserved, making it one of the best sites in the country for understanding the way of life in a large country house during the Roman period. Over a mile of walls survives and there are several fine mosaics. The phases of building seem to range from the early second century to the fourth century. The construction of the early fourth century seems to have added a dry-heat sauna, a triclinium or dining room, porticos and an enclosed courtyard to the original structure. Today it is possible to see two bathhouses, hypocausts, a water-shrine and latrine.
In 1924 Chedworth Roman Villa site was bought for the National Trust by means of funds raised largely by the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society. The Trust ensures the preservation of the villa and has created interactive attractions at the site, such as staged events to help visitors to understand the Roman way of life. These events include Romano-British craft days and recreations of Roman society. There is also a fifteen minute audio-visual presentation at the entrance to help to enhance the experience of visiting the site for visitors.