This work is part of a 5 year research plan supported by English Heritage to understand the North Range of Chedworth Roman Villa to enable the design and to raise money for a cover building. On Friday, we will rebury the site but we now know the potential for future conservation and display of the villa’s hidden gems.
Apart from the mosaic we also want to understand the features that James Farrer uncovered in 1864 (150 years ago 2014) and Sir Ian Richmond in 1963. We do not have photographs or drawings of their work.
We have uncovered area ‘e’ which is a walled enclosure which projects south into the inner courtyard of the villa.
It is thought to have been an ornate water feature of some kind but we do not know how deep it is or how it functioned. Richmond exposed the wall tops. Farrer dug it out and then it was backfilled with Roman spoil from the excavations. Every now and then a piece of Victorian pottery or a button betrays the fact that we are dealing with something 150 years old rather than 1600. Rob has found a clay lining and fragments of fallen pink mortar but he is about 0.6m deep and has not found the base yet.
We need to discover details of Richmond’s early walls and I investigated the one that runs under the stone steps. A line of stones proved to be edging for the grand reception room mosaic that runs against its east side. Below Richmond’s concrete was clay mixed with 4th century pottery and this overlay a wall with a mortar floor against its west side at a lower level. I wonder whether the edging stones against the mosaic indicate that there was a door into the Reception Room here in the late 4th century.
We have almost completed the uncovering of mosaic islands ‘c’ and ‘d’ now. ‘c’ has some significant loss but ‘d’ is good. Across the wall cutting to the east area’a’ has also lost quite a large area. The decorated panels are varied and impressive. We still have area ‘b’ to uncover but things are progressing well… oh dear heavy rain on Monday we will need to make the most of today.