BACAS member Sophie Hawke gave a talk last Saturday (11 November) to members of West Wiltshire Young Archaeologists’ Club about a Roman villa discovered in Bradford on Avon.
An excavation in 1976 discovered a Roman bath house right on the edge of the school playing field of St Laurence School, Budbury. It seemed very likely there was an important Roman building, perhaps a villa, nearby. But it wasn’t discovered for quite a long time…
In 1999, the dry summer revealed parch marks in the playing field’s grass. In 2002-2004, Mark Corney led a dig that uncovered some remarkable Roman archaeology: a large villa with beautiful mosaic-floored reception rooms and further buildings around a courtyard and, surprisingly, another villa next door, of nearly the same plan!
The mosaics were incredibly well preserved, and Sophie was able to show the YAC members some photographs of them being excavated by the archaeological team. Sophie was ideally suited to giving this talk as she is St Laurence School’s archaeology liaison officer; she liaised between the school and the archaeologists for the 2002/4 dig and took part in the dig herself.
The young archaeologists were able to get hands-on with some of the Roman finds made during the villa dig, including Roman building materials, tiles and tesserae used to make the mosaics. Finally, they got the chance to colour and create their own mosaic masterpieces!
Sophie said ‘I enjoyed explaining about the Bradford on Avon Roman villa and the YAC members were very enthusiastic; they particularly liked handling real Roman finds!’
Source: Young Archaeologists’ Club: http://www.yac-uk.org/news/west-wiltshire-yacs-roman
See also: Sophie Hawke (2003). ‘St Laurence School: Roman Villa‘ Camertonia 41: 23.