Chedworth Roman Villa


Chedworth Roman Villa is a Roman villa located at Chedworth, Gloucestershire, England. It is one of the largest Roman villas in Britain.

Siting
Among the many villas in this area , it is unusual in that it faces east and stands in a sheltered, but shady, position overlooking the River Coln. The apsidal shrine with a spring-fed pool in the northwest angle of the villa complex may have dictated the siting, for in it was found a crudely carved figure of Mars Lenus, incised en(o) M (Adams 2003).

Phases
The ranges of rooms are arranged around a courtyard, with a luxuriously heated and furnished west wing, a south wing where the discovery of numerous coins has suggested a use for issuing payments (Adams 2003); the modestly-equipped west and south wings do not open directly into the peristyle and seem to have been habitations of lower status. The phases of building range from the early second century to the fourth century, with the early fourth century construction transforming an unpretentious workaday structure into an elite dwelling, completely enclosing the courtyard, which offered increased security, and adding porticos round the perimeter to create a peristyle. A triclinium or dining room with a fine mosaic floor was also added. Unusually, a feature of the fourth-century building project was a dry-heat sauna that was added to the complex, which already was provided with the usual Roman bath. The floors of at least eleven rooms were decorated with fine mosaics, of which five, of varying quality, remain. Later structural changes punched holes in the mosaics.

Temple
Foundations of a Romano-Celtic temple of mid-second century date have been excavated about 800 meters south-east of the villa complex, on a hillside near the Coln River. The temple was square in plan, surrounded by a portico which featured stone capitals to its pillars, a luxurious, thoroughly Romanized feature. An Iron Age votive pit producing human remains and the bones of a red deer show that the site had been sacred since pre-Roman times. A stone relief of a hunter with a dog and stag was one of the most notable finds from the site.

Discovery and display
The villa was accidentally discovered in 1864 by a gamekeeper digging for a ferret in a wooded valley in the Cotswolds. The former owner, Lord Eldon, built a small picturesque museum near the site to house recovered objects. It has been administered since 1924 by the National Trust.