Romans


In the grounds of Littlecote House you will find the largest and most complete Roman villa complex on display in Britain (and Warners' best-kept secret!).  The stunning Orpheus mosaic never fails to astound and impress and it is just a short walk from the old house.

 

Discovered accidently by the Littlecote steward in 1727, it caused a sensation at the time and was declared by the Antiquarian Roger Gale to be “the finest pavement that the sun ever shone upon in England”.  The mosaic was re-buried and subsequently considered broken up and lost.  But in 1976 it was rediscovered by two local archaeologists, Bryn Walters and Bernard Phillips, and the whole site painstakingly restored over a 13-year period. 


At the villa site are several detailed information boards with illustrations of the villa, created and installed by Bryn and Luigi Thompson, from which these extracts have been taken.  Don’t miss it!


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The Villa Complex


Between the first and eighteenth centuries, seven main periods of structural development took place by the side of the River Kennet.   These ranged from a native British round-house of AD 60, through a series of domestic work buildings, to the unusual and exotic ‘Orphic’ structure of AD 360.  


During the medieval period, the last Roman structures were gradually demolished and used as a source of building material.  Between 1650 and 1780, above the remains of the east end of the ‘Orphic’ building, a brick-built cottage was developed into a well-appointed house, probably the hunting lodge for Littlecote Park.  It was in the garden of this house, whilst digging post holes for a fence, that the Littlecote steward found the mosaic in 1727.