Sunday, 14 October 2007

Remains of a Roman Villa in situ

During our trips to England we've seen a couple of Roman ruins and/or museums. They are interesting and amazing but you are definitely removed from the artifacts themselves. Reading Bill Bryson's "Notes from a Small Island" I made special note of his reference to a walk that led him to the remains of a Roman villa where a good section of a mosiac floor was still intact unmarked and unofficiated out in the woods. A little googling gave me more information along with a marvelous new resource - Ordnance Survey maps online! Armed with some detailed mapping we set out for Winchcombe - a small village in the Cotswolds. We got off to a bit of a rough start finding it hard to locate the footpath we wanted to follow but soon enough had it sorted and we were on our way. A little over an hour later and we had found the area of the remains. A couple of very small side paths led to remains of walls and then to the area of the floor. At some point admirers had constructed a small shelter covered in corrugated tin about 5 feet above the floor and covered the tiles with tar paper held in place with rocks. We uncovered the floor and found a real treasure. The mosiac covers an area about 4 feet square and is very well preserved especially considering its exposed situation. It was terrific to be able to touch the mosiac and try to imagine the site as it would have been during the 1st century AD. While we were there other walkers passed by on the main path oblivious to the historical wonder just yards away. It felt like a real secret.

Our first clue: remains of a wall and steps (look closely).

Robin contemplating the mosiac floor.

Details of the floor, with Amy's red wellies for a bit of modern contrast.

On the way back home we did a short walk to Belas Knap, an prehistoric burial mound - the biggest in Britain. Our timing was perfect - heading towards twilight and no one else around. We didn't get any pictures but you can see it and read more about it here:

We finishe
d the day with yet another failed attempt (I think this is the 3rd) to have a meal at the Highwayman pub. We ate there once in 2006 and really liked it but we have had dismal luck since then in finding it open. We quickly found a substitute in the handy Pub Guide I'd had the foresight to throw in the car and I finally got to have some of the fabled Banoffee Pie - quite delicious!

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