Smashing news about the Chedworth Villa roman glass

The glass when first found

At last we can tell the story of what the specialists found out about the little piece of glass Pete found in 2017 at Chedworth Villa. You may already know its story as it hit the press and social media yesterday, 22nd July.

Not long after excavation I had taken it to Professor Jenny Price, a roman glass expert. She was very intrigued by it and thought she had seen something resembling it in the past, but from the Middle East. Features of the glass indicated that the technique used to make it was also unusual, differing from that used to make glass with similar decoration. The glass had a distinctive profile showing that it came from a long bottle with an oval shape and a sharp taper at the end. So away it went with her, so she could study it and consult many experts around the world.

The glass fragment showing loops of yellow and white

Eighteen months later Jenny was able to report back to us that it probably came from an area around the Black Sea. She had found a reference to another similar glass flask that had been excavated from a burial in Chersonesus in Crimea. It turned out to be part of a fish-shaped flask with the fish’s open mouth forming the aperture of the vessel, and probably held perfume or an unguent of some kind. 

It was the first piece of this kind of glass ever to be found in Britain, a very rare find.

Jenny also found a very similar fish-shaped flask that had been restored from many pieces, at the Corning Museum of Glass in New York. By comparing the two examples, she concluded the Chedworth piece came from near the ‘tail’ of the fish bottle

An archaeological drawing of the place were the piece of glass fits on the fish flask

Sadly, Jenny passed away a few months ago. Earlier, Pete, who found the glass, had a chance to go and see her and talk about the fish. He said he could see she was enchanted by it, and we are so pleased she had a chance to solve this puzzle and knew how excited we all were by it. It is a very special find.

To have found that it is the only one of its type so far discovered in Roman Britain adds to our knowledge of the importance of Chedworth Roman Villa.

That such an exotic thing was brought from so far away seems to underline that the occupants were in touch with the furthest regions of the Roman Empire and wanted to show off that influence and connections.

Illustration of what it may have looked like by archaeological illustrator Maggie Foottit

This little gem of glass and the illustrations can now be seen on display at Chedworth Villa in Gloucestershire.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The only other example of such a fish-shaped Roman bottle comes from a 2nd-century burial in Crimea. 

The technique used to make the Chedworth bottle was unusual, with decoration laid on top of the blue-green surface to create ‘scales’ in loops of white and yellow. It was more common to incorporate different colours into the body of the vessel itself.  

at the University of York who was helping with a dig to understand more about the north wing of the villa. 

Peter said: “When it appeared, the first wipe of the surface showed the colour and it quickly became apparent it was something special. Excavating anything at Chedworth and knowing that you are the first person to gaze upon it for at least 1,800 years is a feeling that never tires, the memory of recovering this piece of glass certainly will not. 

“Recovering such a unique find is incredibly humbling, it will no doubt prove a talking point for years to come. I am delighted that it will be displayed at the villa, enabling visitors and future generations to marvel at its beauty.”

Nancy Grace concluded: “This find shows there is still more for Chedworth to tell us about Roman life in this corner of Gloucestershire.” 

The fragment is going on display at the villa as part of the Festival of Archaeology (until 28 July) and will remain on display throughout summer.

 

What a load of rubbish!

Day five on the windy Dorset coast, with sand in our eyes, hair and ears the National Trust working holiday group reach their last day. The group have worked very hard to get as much excavated as possible, I cannot thank them enough.

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Again the girls and the boys worked at opposite ends of the site, the boys in the late 18th century and the girls in the 1940s!

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The rubbish pit produced mugs, plates, bottles, tin cans and a toothbrush! The plate gave us a good date 1943 written on the base and we had two fancy art deco type Brylcream jars, I think we are starting to build a good picture of the guys who dug the hole seventy years ago!

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Susie found a hoard of bottles and an enamel water flask.

Alison found the mugs, and Kathleen a drinks bottle.

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At three o clock the rain came but so did the chocolate cake 🙂 everyone left with warm glows and full tummies 🙂

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A mug of something warming

Day three in the Hive Beach house! another dry but windy day. We lost two of the gang to a day of geophysics but gained a local volunteer and for ten minutes three very young archaeologists (ages 4, 6 and 8)

Three young archaeologist, being 'trained' by Millie

Three young archaeologist, being ‘trained’ by Millie

Kathleen and Ben moved from the top of the ‘cliff’ down into what remains of the building, to start the job of emptying the rubble from what is left of the ‘rooms’ either side of the fireplace. They did a great job and we have more plaster surviving on the walls.

Before rubble removal

Before rubble removal

After rubble removal

After rubble removal

Before rubble removal

Before rubble removal

After rubble removal

After rubble removal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Area of iron and coal

Area of iron and coal

The rest of the workforce carried on going down behind the building, behind the old seat concrete base is an area of coal, ironwork, possible tin cans,  glass and pottery. It looks like someone has burnt the remains of a small building or have had a very big picnic! We know that during World War II  there were small buildings put up in the area and some of the finds coming out of the area of burning seem to date to this time. Anyone for a mug of Bovril 🙂

Bovril meat extract jar from about 1940?

Bovril meat extract jar from about 1940?