Celebrating Chedworth Roman Villa's Special Anniversary

Wednesday, October 29, 2014 9:38:00 AM

As a Cotswold Blue Badge Tour Guide, I love anniversaries as it highlights the importance of our visitor attractions and encourages people to visit or revisit the area. This year, 2014, the National Trust have been celebrating 150 years since the re-discovery of Chedworth Roman Villa by the Victorians in 1864, and 90 years since the site came into the Trusts' possession in 1924.   Extra events, tours and talks have been added to the annual programme which have been very interesting.
In 2012 Lottery funding provided money for a new award winning conservation building which was erected to cover and protect a section of the villa, which greatly improves the visitor experience. With raised walkways, people can  marvel at the mosaics, imagine the finely painted walls in the numerous rooms, discover how the Roman central heating worked and get a much better idea of the luxurious living of the very wealthy, in Roman times. 
The new conservation building
This summer Gloucestershire archaeologists made a new and surprising discovery. They found and unearthed yet another mosaic in what they presume would have been the grand reception area. It was on show to the public for a few weeks in the summer but has been re-covered to save it from further damage by the weather until funding is available for another building to be built to protect and preserve it.

The Cotswolds Roman Villa's existence was supposedly discovered by accident in 1864 when a gamekeeper ferreting for rabbits found tesserae in the ground around a burrow.  Realising that this could be an important discovery he reported his find to the landowner Lord Eldon and the digging started with great enthusiasm. Victorian archaeology wasn't as thorough as today and detailed records were not made, so unfortunately there are gaps in our knowledge which wouldn't have happened if the dig had taken place more recently.

An artists impression of how Chedworth Roman Villa
looked c. AD 350
Today, there is much information on show, to help with  the interpretation of the Chedworth site. On the left there is an artists' impression of how they think the villa looked around AD350.  It became one of the largest and was probably owned by one of the wealthiest Romano British families in Britannia at that time.  It wasn't just a home it was a farmstead with a large labour force working to produce food for the region with probably some of the produce exported to other parts of the Roman Empire.

Site map showing location of Chedworth
Roman Villa to the Roman Roads and

A site information board shows the location of other villas in the area at the time, and shows how close they were to the Fosse Way - the military road built by the Romans to link Exeter with Lincoln which ran through Cirencester, the 2nd largest Roman town after London.  Chedworth villa, the best surviving roman villa in the area was built in a very sheltered valley, it had a good water supply, being close to springs spouting water from the nearby hill and it faced south.  Just little way away, the River Coln flowed towards the river Thames.
The Visitor Centre, Café and Shop

I can recommend Chedworth Roman Villa as an excellent place to visit with the family, so keep a look out for special events. There's a visitor centre and café.  The staff and volunteers are very helpful and are only too please to pass on as much information about the Roman Villa as possible.

For a guided coach tour to include a visit to Chedworth Roman Villa
Contact:  Blue Badge Tour Guide - Anne Bartlett

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