Rural Villa in Chedworth
This Roman villa in Gloucestershire was partially excavated in the late 19th century, but only the built features and their mosaic floors appear to have been of interest to the Victorian diggers. Excavations in the courtyard conducted between 2000 and 2002 revealed that earlier excavators had not disturbed the courtyard.
Parts of the villa may date to the early 3rd century A.D. at the latest, but extensions to existing buildings and the arrangement of the residential wings around an open courtyard can be ascribed to the early 4th century (Fig. 1). The slightly trapezoidal courtyard had a maximum width of 25 meters and a maximum length of 40 meters. The recent excavations in the courtyard show that in the early 4th century soil was brought in and dumped over earlier built features such as drains, transforming the newly created courtyard into a garden (G in Fig. 1). In places, this garden soil was as much as 50 centimeters deep. The dark garden soil containing domestic refuse does not appear to have been reworked regularly for cultivation since the sherds and animal bones in it were not abraded. The courtyard surface may have been lawned rather than planted with flowers, hedges or other vegetation. Excavations have not revealed planting pits or planting beds, but the possibility of randomly spaced trees cannot be ruled out. The courtyard must have been a high-status element of this residential part of the estate, the rooms arranged around the garden having included private dining rooms and baths. In the second half of the 4th century the garden was abandoned and parts of the courtyard roughly paved with flagstones, indicating that the area in its later years possibly functioned as a yard for animals and wheeled traffic or for other utilitarian purposes.
Early 4th century - unspecified
Late 19th century, 2000-2002
- G. de la Bedoyere, Roman Villas and the Countryside, London, 1993, pp. 59-61, fig. 44. (worldcat)
- M. Carroll, Earthly Paradises. Ancient Gardens in History and Archaeology. London: The British Museum Press, 2003, 112-113
- M. Carroll, They came, they saw, they gardened. The Garden: Journal of the Royal Horticultural Society 128.6, 2003, 460-463, fig. p. 461
- M. Carroll, Excavations at Chedworth Roman Villa by the University of Sheffield 2000-2002, in S. Esmonde Cleary, J. Wood and E. Durham (eds.), Chedworth Roman Villa: Excavations and Re-Imaginings from the Nineteenth to the Twenty-First Centuries Britannia Monograph Series 34. London: Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies (forthcoming).
- R. Goodburn, Chedworth Roman Villa, London, 1996. (worldcat)
21 Apr 2021