History in Kent => Ancient History => Topic started by: kyn on June 03, 2012, 20:24:11

Title: Lullingstone Roman Villa
Post by: kyn on June 03, 2012, 20:24:11
The earliest house on this site was believed to have been built in around 100; evidence shows it to have been in a typical villa style with a block of rooms and a wing at each end of the building.  For the following 300 years the villa was adapted and enlarged.


The first section of building you see when you enter shows one of the additions to the original building, this section was added in about 275 and is believed to show the underfloor heating beneath the rooms, the hot air from the furnace would have been moved under the rooms via ventilation which encouraged the air circulation.  These areas may have been the spaces for a furnace, three heated rooms and a room thought to have been used at a later date as a kitchen.



The next room you come to is named the Deep Room, this room is a lot deeper than the others in the villa and is believed to be part of the original villa.  This room most likely started life as a cellar, with steps leading from the outside directly in and a separate staircase on the inside giving access from above.  In the floor of this room is a well, this has provided one of a few clues as to later use of this room.  Due to paintings of Water Nymphs and other paintings and the well it is believed that this room may have been used as a cult room, possibly even as a secret room used to celebrate paganism whilst the room above was used to celebrate Christianity.  It may have been at this time the exterior stairs into the Deep Room were blocked up giving the only access from within the building.  Within the Deep Room two marble busts were found, one thought to represent Pertinax, a governor of Britain, as were some pots and other items that may have been used as part of a pagan ritual.



Above the Deep Room was a room now called the House-Church.  This room was decorated with paintings on plaster that represent the Christian religion, thousands of fragments of these paintings were found in the room beneath, some charred from the fire believed to have destroyed the villa.  Once reconstructed the painting shows six figures with their hands raised in the manner of Christian prayer during the Roman period.  There were further paintings similar on other walls of the room.  It also appears that an ante-room was in use, similar to a narthex, for people who were not yet been formally admitted to the church.  This room was decorated with more Christian themed paintings.  This room is believed to be the earliest evidence of Christianity in Britain, and the paintings almost unparalleled.



The next section you come to is where the main entrance to the villa was situated.  This faced the river and would have been a verandah.  After this area is the south wing, nothing was uncovered here to suggest the use of the room. 



The next section contains the baths, these were constructed in around 150, there is evidence of an earlier structure here also.  The bath suite was used as a sort of health spa/fitness area.  After undressing in the changing room you would move to the cold room (frigidarium), you then go to the warm room (tepidarium) and then to the hot room (caldarium), each time moving closer to the furnace.  Above the furnace was a water tank that fed directly into the hot plunge bath.  During each room your pores would open and before entering the hot plunge room a metal scraper would be used on your skin.  After the hot plunge bath you would go into the cold plunge bath to close your ores.  A steam room was also in use here, evidence of this is a room with wall flues to heat the room. It is thought these rooms would be rarely used as the only way to get water was via a nearby well, this would have been very time consuming.  It is thought that at a later date a aqueduct as built to bring in large amounts of water directly.






Of course the most impressive part of this well preserved villa is the mosaic floor tiles in the dining room and audience chamber.  These rooms would be where guests were entertained and this would be where you could show of your wealth by installing magnificent mosaic pictures.  The square room here may have been the original dining room, or may have served as both dining room and audience chamber where the owner would meet tenants and conduct business.  The mosaics were designed to face the apse, where guess would be seated on curved couches looking over the mosaics. The square mosaic shows Bellerophon, Prince of Corinth, on the winged horse Pegasus, killing the Chimera, a fire-breathing she-monster.  This picture could also have been chosen to disguise a Christian message.


The second mosaic, in the apse, shows the mythical story of the Rape of Europa, who was abducted by Jupiter disguised as a bull.  One of the accompanying cupids try to intervene by pulling the tail of the bull.  A Latin couplet above the image reads:


Which translates to “If jealous Juno (Jupiter’s wife) had seen the swimming of the bull she would with greater justice have gone to the halls of Aeolus.”  This alludes to an episode in the first book of Virgil’s Aeneid, in which Jupiter’s wife, Juno, demands that Aeolus, the god of the winds, drowns Aeneas and his fleet at sea; but here it is transferred ironically to Jupitor’s abduction of the princess Europa.



Title: Re: Lullingstone Roman Villa
Post by: kyn on June 05, 2012, 13:01:37
The excavation...
Title: Re: Lullingstone Roman Villa
Post by: kyn on June 05, 2012, 14:02:33
15th July, 1949

Roman Mosaic in Kent

Lullingstone Park Excavations

The site of a Roman villa detected in the eighteenth century on the northern boundary of Lullingstone Park, near Farmingham in Kent, has been rediscovered recently and is now being excavated by Lieutenant-Colonel C. W. Meates and others with spectacular results.

The remains include a large mosaic pavement which covers the floor of an apsidal double room and consists of two figured panels with borders of geometrical and other patterns.  One of the panels represents Bellerophron mounted on the winged horse Pegasus and spearing the Chimera, with representations of the four seasons in the corners of the design.  The other panel shows Europa carried off across the sea by Jupiter disguised as a bull, and is noteworthy for a Latin couplet which has survived almost intact above the scene.  With slight restorations, the verses read as follows:-


The merit of these verses is questionable but their meaning is clear.  They may be translated:  “If jealous Juno had seen the swimming of the bull she might more justly have gone to the halls of Aeolus.”

Romano-British Culture

The reference is to the first book of Aeneid, where the hostile Juno appeals to Aeolus, god of the winds, to raise a storm in order to overwhelm Aeneas on his voyage to Italy, with the implication that she might, with greater provocation, have made a similar appeal had she seen her wayward consort eloping to Crete with the fair Europa on his back.

The technical crudeness of the mosaic matches the homely Latinity of the verses and suggests that their date is unlikely to be much earlier than 300 A.D.  Inscribed pavements are far from common in Britain, and the discovery is of additional interest for the light which it throws upon the culture of a Roman-British country gentleman in the pleasant Darenth valley under the later Empire.  The work of excavation is proceeding with the help of volunteers, and, if funds are forthcoming, it is hoped to roof the mosaic and preserve it for public inspection.
Title: Re: Lullingstone Roman Villa
Post by: Lyn L on June 05, 2012, 14:03:46
Just seen your follow on post  :) so now I know . Thanks again
Title: Re: Lullingstone Roman Villa
Post by: kyn on June 05, 2012, 14:09:58
I am confused, what do you mean Lyn L?  :)
Title: Re: Lullingstone Roman Villa
Post by: Lyn L on June 05, 2012, 14:33:47
Sorry to confuse, I asked when the excavation was but forgot to click on 'post' then saw your follow on , and I haven't even started on the grapes yet  :)
Title: Re: Lullingstone Roman Villa
Post by: kyn on June 05, 2012, 14:36:41
 :)  Enjoy the grapes :)
Title: Re: Lullingstone Roman Villa
Post by: kyn on June 05, 2012, 16:49:45
Early picture of one of the mosaics.
Title: Re: Lullingstone Roman Villa
Post by: kyn on June 06, 2012, 14:32:38
1.   Ceramic box flue tile – Hot air would pass up a series of hollow box flue tiles set into the walls.  They were impressed with patterns to provide a key which mortar could stick to.
2.   Mortar – Made of line mixed with sand and water, mortar was used for binding flint foundations and bricks together.  It could be difficult to use, as it does not set reliably during wet or cold weather.
3.   Tegula – A common roofing material, the L-shaped edges of these tiles butted up against each other, and the join was covered with a semi-circular tile called an imbrex to keep water from getting through.
4.   Ceramic mortarium, 3rd century AD – A mortarium containing pigment was discovered near the house-church.  In analysis the pigment was found to be the same as the ‘Egyptian blue’ painted on the walls in the house-church.
Title: Re: Lullingstone Roman Villa
Post by: kyn on June 06, 2012, 14:37:39
5.   Lead outlet pipe, late 4th century – Discovered outside the baths, it would have carried water away from the bath complex to an exterior drain.
6.   T-shaped iron staple - T-shaped staples were usually used for securing box flue tiles to masonry walls, or for securing brick or woodwork.
7.   Daub – Daub was a kind of plaster made of straw, clay, water and even cow dung.  It was smeared over the wattles, rods of hazel woven into a lattice.  Their imprints can still be seen in the daub.
8.   Mortar Pestle and limestone mortar fragments, 2nd-4th century – They were used for grinding or pounding substances like the pigments for the wall paintings.
9.   Iron drop hinge, 4th century – The U-shaped hinge was attached to a door, and slotted over the L-shaped staple nailed into the door jamb.
10.   Brick – Roman bricks are made with clay, sand and water and are thinner than modern bricks.
Title: Re: Lullingstone Roman Villa
Post by: kyn on June 06, 2012, 14:38:56
11.   Opus signinum – This hard waterproof concrete was mainly used for floors, but can also be found wherever a waterproof coating is required.
12.   Burnt flint – This was most likely to have been used in the villa’s foundations.  It probably became white when it was burnt, possibly in the destruction of the villa.
13.   Painted wall plaster depicting a fish – This trout was probably part of a larger underwater scene that decorated the walls of the cold plunge bath.
14.   Painted wall plaster – Various substances were used to obtain the different colours for painting, including powdered charcoal, red and yellow ochres and iron oxide.
15.   Roman iron nails – Each is slightly different and would have been adapted for a specific task.
16.   Tesserae – These coloured cubes were cut from a variety of materials, both local and imported, including ceramic and stone.  They were set in mortar to form a pictorial or decorative mosaic, or to create a plain tessellated floor.
Title: Re: Lullingstone Roman Villa
Post by: kyn on June 06, 2012, 14:51:49
Monday, 1st August, 1949

Roman busts found in Kent

Sealed hiding-place

The bust of a Roman Emperor, thought to be Marcus Aurelius, has been found, with other statuary, in a sealed-off hiding-place at Lullingstone, Kent, by a “digging party” of archaeologists and amateur helpers.

The statues have probably lain there unknown for nearly 18 centuries, and more may come to light.  The two complete busts found so far are believed to be of Carrara marble.  They are in excellent condition, even to the elegant marble curls in their hair.  The headless bust of a woman, in fine draperies, has been discovered, and search for her head will be made in the next few days.

“We hope that the ‘missing lady’ will be Faustina, wife of Marcus Aurelius,” said Lieutenant-Colonel G. W. Meates, who is directing the excavation.  “First we have to move a charred oakwood plank, at least 1,500 years old.  This will be a tricky operation, involving careful use of bandaging and plaster of paris.  A London nurse is helping us.”

The hiding-place where the statues were found, together with a votive pot, lay down a flight of stone steps.  The theory advanced by Colonel Meates is that dwellers in an early Roman villa in the second century A.D. had been alarmed for some reason, possibly because of local revolts by the British, and had hidden their treasures away, sealing the entrance to the chamber.

It is clear, he said, that from the end of the second century to the fourth the existence of this “hide” was unknown.  Otherwise these works of art would have been rifled or sold by “squatters” or small farmers who lived there during that time.

A magnificent new Roman villa was built on the site in the fourth century, probably for an important Roman official and his household, but was later destroyed by fire.  It is thought that even these people may not have discovered the secret chamber.  The remarkable mosaic floor, excavated earlier this year, was part of this later villa.
Title: Re: Lullingstone Roman Villa
Post by: Lyn L on June 06, 2012, 15:24:05
Thanks again Kyn,
Just recently read a book about Marcus Aurelius ( fiction though )  :)
Title: Re: Lullingstone Roman Villa
Post by: kyn on June 06, 2012, 15:26:58
 :)  It turns out that the busts were not of an Emperor, but I think the newspaper reports add to the story of the excavation and the excitment of when it was found.  Lots more to add yet!
Title: Re: Lullingstone Roman Villa
Post by: kyn on June 06, 2012, 15:27:40
The busts.
Title: Re: Lullingstone Roman Villa
Post by: kyn on June 06, 2012, 18:49:30
Some other items found during the excavation.  Items of decoration or parts of board games.
Title: Re: Lullingstone Roman Villa
Post by: kyn on June 06, 2012, 19:08:07
Tuesday 6th September, 1949

Wall Paintings in Roman Villa

Further Discoveries at Lullingstone

More than 2,000 fragments of decorated wall plaster have been recovered from one part alone of the Roman villas site at Lullingstone, Kent, which is being excavated by the Darenth Valley Excavation Committee.

It is hoped that the fragments will provide details from which the plan of decoration of a room of the fourth century villa can be visualized.  This is the villa in which a mosaic pavement was discovered earlier this year.  As this villa was at some time burned down, some of the plaster pieces are charred, but colours that are evident range through every shade from deep purple, browns, and greens to pale lilac and saffron.

Some of the wall plaster pieces show designs of column with an Ionic capital, a bird on a branch, scroll work in purple and parts of human figures.

May Indicate Costume

“The fragments of human subjects, when assembled, may give an indication of the costume and personal adornment of this period of Roman occupation, which will prove to be of great archaeological value if we can reconstruct the plan of decoration adequately.”  Lieutenant-Colonel G. W. Meates, who is directing the excavation, said in an interview “Among the plaster fragments is a portrayal of an arm in a close-fitting sleeve adorned with decorated bangles worn over the sleeve.  Part of another figure shows a bare foot and ankle with an anklet.  The enormous ‘jig-saw’ involved in piecing together the fragments found, and any more that may come to light, will probably take a whole winter to solve.”

Another important find made on the site of the earlier villa consists of a compact group of four solid bronze ingots and a very heavy circular bronze casting.  The ingots were each about 15in. long, by 5in., and 1 ½in., and each weighed half a hundredweight.  The casting was 2ft. in diameter and varied in thickness from a half to one inch.  Forming part of the group was a reddish pottery vessel.  They were all sealed beneath a concrete floor, probably in the second century, and were, Colonel Meates considers, put there deliberately.

Bath Chambers Found

A wing of the early Roman villa has now been partly uncovered.  This consists of bath chambers, hot and cold.  The hypocaust (or central heating system) is clearly traceable.  From the bath block a flight of steps leads up to a corridor which seems to communicate with the main residential block, as yet un-excavated.

The plan of the fourth-century Roman villa is beginning to reveal itself, the southern boundary wall having been identified not far from the mosaic pavement.

About 60 coins of varying periods have been found, including a few minimi of the late fourth century.  Among the coins are some bearing the heads if Constantine the Great, Constans, Constantius, Magnentius, and Valens.

No more statuary has been discovered, but another votive pot has been found buried near the spot where the busts and the first pot were dug up.  It had a coin in it.

“Considerable progress has been made during the last few months,” Colonel Meates said.  “This is due in no small part to the time given and the skill shown by numerous volunteers, some of whom have spent every week-end through the season helping us.  Their work, which is of high order, has been invaluable.”
Title: Re: Lullingstone Roman Villa
Post by: kyn on June 07, 2012, 12:46:43
During the excavation a fourth century structure was uncovered north of the villa, it was in the form of a Romano-Celtic temple and appears to have been used as a mausoleum.  A large central pit was found to contain two lead coffins, one apprently holding the skeleton of a female, which is thought to have been disturbed by robbers, and a more complete coffin holding the bones of a male.  This coffin is now on display.
Title: Re: Lullingstone Roman Villa
Post by: kyn on June 07, 2012, 17:04:44
Friday, 9th September, 1949


Those who enjoy pitting their own ingenious wits against the perversity of inanimate objects must at this moment be envying the happy band of workers on the Roman villa at Lullingstone.  More than 2,000 fragments of decorated wall plaster have been discovered, there are doubtless more to come and the director of the excavations is quoted as saying that the “enormous jog-saw involved” in piecing them together will take all winter.  Here is indeed a puzzle on a colossal scale.  To those unskilled in such exercises the thought is almost overwhelming.  Even the mildest puzzle, suited to juvenile solvers, inspires in them a feeling of hopeless and infuriating impotence.  Instead of going to work systematically to accomplish one corner they plunge haphazard into that jumble of colours and fantastic shapes, to be constantly baffled by some tiny but obdurate fraction of an inch.  Then they have perhaps a stroke of luck and piece together, let us say, a gigantic eye belonging to one of Mr. Walt Disney’s engaging animals.  It is but a flash in the pan; they are soon plunged in despair again because the body refuses to adhere to the eye.  It ever very nearly fits but never quite.  They are like Sherlock Holmes when playing the kindred game of ciphers.  “Now let us try again,” he exclaimed in joyful excitement.  “What does the Mahratta Government do?” and then, in profound gloom, “Alas! the next word is ‘pigs’-bristles.’  We are undone, my good Watson!  It is finished.”

Of course, Holmes was not finished; he soon recovered even from that shattering blow, and so it is with the jig-saw.  If the solver struggles on, resisting the temptation to scatter the hateful pieces about the floor, light will come at last.  It is the first steps that count, even as they do in that other diabolical invention, the crossword.  The road does not wind up-hill all the way; once the crest has passed it can even run down-hill with miraculous swiftness.  There are some who prefer to tackle such problems in grim, solitary happiness, but others, perhaps a larger band, can do them only in committee, when each contributes something.  Their hearts are borne up by a sense of fellowship in difficulties.  So it will be with these hardy puzzlers of Lullingstone.  It is pleasant to imagine them shouting the glad news to one another across the floor of the villa: “Hi!  I’ve got a bangle.  Who’s got an arm to put in it?” or “Where’s that blessed foot got to?  I believe I’ve found its toe.”  They will have their disappointments and find themselves trying to madly squeeze a right-hand foot into a left-hand shoe.  But by the time the spring flowers have come again they will have for the only original toe, and what good fun they will have had in the meantime.
Title: Re: Lullingstone Roman Villa
Post by: kyn on June 08, 2012, 12:58:01
During the excavation a second century shrine was uncovered, the building had remains of a floor made of course red tesserae and traces of red and white wall plaster.  This has been left uncovered for visitors to see.
Title: Re: Lullingstone Roman Villa
Post by: kyn on June 08, 2012, 17:35:17
Saturday 24th September, 1949

Skeleton of Roman Cat

Archaeologists’ Find in Kent

The skeleton of a Roman cat has been found on a Roman villa site at Lullingstone, Kent, by archaeologists excavating under the direction of Lieutenant-Colonel G. W. Meates.  It is well preserved and will be reassembled at the institute of Archaeology, University of London, by Miss Daphne Carfiato, who is studying bones at the institute.  Dr. F. E. Zeuner, Professor of Environmental Archaeology at the institute, who will supervise the work, has described the find as unusual.

The skeleton was found under debris between the floors of the second and fourth century villas, neat the Roman imperial statuary dug up a few months ago.
Title: Re: Lullingstone Roman Villa
Post by: kyn on June 09, 2012, 11:17:58
Friday 22nd February, 1952

An Early Christian Chapel

Lullingstone Discovery

A domestic chapel that is possibly the earliest Christian place of worship yet found in this country has been revealed by work on the fourth-century Roman villa at Lullingstone, Kent.

The earlier results of the excavation of the site were reported in these columns between July and September, 1949.  The work since carried out is described in a statement made to The Times jointly by Lieutenant-Colonel G. W. Meates, director of the excavations, Mr. C. D. P. Nicholson, restorer of the plaster, and Professor of Classical Archaeology at Cambridge University.  The statement is as follows:-

The finds include many thousand fragments of painted wall-plaster recovered from a basement room into which they had fallen from the walls of an upper chamber at the time of the final destruction of the villa by fire, c. A.D. 367.  After two and a half years of continuous research on these fragments it has proved possible to reconstruct the main out-lines of the design painted on the west wall of the upper chamber.

Five ~(possibly six) human figures, some of them about 32in. high and vividly portrayed with brightly coloured hair, lustrous eyes, and rich robes, were ranged in a row, one in each of the intercolumniations of an elaborate pillared portico, which rose behind a garden of flowers.  The style of dresses, which show jewelled borders and long sleeves, fitting tightly at the wrists, indicates that these paintings were of the fourth century A.D.  Some at least of the figures stood facing the spectator with both arms extended laterally, in the attitude of the “Orante,” or early Christian prayer, familiar from countless catacomb paintings and carved sarcophagi of the third and fourth centuries.

Latest Work

This feature immediately suggests to us that the paintings were Christian in character; and this possibility was put forward publically by one of us in a discussion after a lecture on the wall-plaster, given to the British Archaeological Association on December 14, 1951.  Since that date further work on the fragments has transformed the possibility into a certainty.  Two large-scale representations of the Chi-Rho monogram, each painted in brilliant red on a white ground and set within a gay garland of fruit, flowers, and leaves, have just been pieced together.  One came from the upper chamber over the basement, the other from what appears to have been an ante-room leading into it from the north, the plaster from which is being reconstructed by Mr. E. Greenfield, one of the directors of the excavations, at Darenth Valley archaeological research centre.  The former representation was probably painted on the west end of the south wall of the chamber, opposite the presumed doorway in the north wall.

There can now be no doubt that some at any rate of the fourth-century occupants of the Lullingstone villa were Christians and that the villa contained a house-church or domestic chapel, comparable to that built into a house at Dura Europos on the Euphrates during the third century, and presenting us with the earliest certainly Christian place of worship discovered in this country so far.  The Christian character of the apsidal building at Silchester has not been proved; and there is no evidence that the apsidal room in the Roman villa at Frampton, Dorset, with the sacred monogram and a chalice worked into its mosaic floor beside a bust of Neptune and other pagan motives, was ever used for other than secular purposes.

The Next Stage

The Lullingstone wall-plaster is, then, not only of extreme interest artistically as a highly important addition to our knowledge of monumental painting in the western provinces under the later Empire.  It is also a discovery of great religious import for all modern English Christians, disclosing to them, in a most intimate and vivid way, something of the faith and practice of their spiritual ancestors in this country in the decades after the “Peace of the Church.”  The evidence suggests c. 345 to 365 as the period during which the paintings were executed.

Who are the figures on the west wall of the upper chamber?  Saints in paradise or living worshippers?  And to what is their gaze directed?  To an altar for the Eucharistic offering and to other, possibly more important, painting son the west wall?  Only from further excavation in the area of the basement beneath the eastern half of the upper chamber, can we hope to find the answers to these questions.  At the moment a modern road bars the way to progress in the direction of the line on which the west wall of the chamber stood.  It is surely vital, both from the archaeological and from the Christian point of view, that permission should be obtained, and funds made available, for temporarily removing the road so that every effort may be made to induce this unique monument to yield up the last, and perhaps the most impressive, of its secrets.

None of the work described could have been accomplished without the generous cooperation of the director of the Institute of Archaeology, Regent’s Park, who most hospitably provided a room at the institute for the study of the plaster.
Title: Re: Lullingstone Roman Villa
Post by: kyn on June 11, 2012, 17:14:48
Friday 5th December, 1952

Roman Murals in Kent

Evidence of Early Christians

Incomplete but significant reconstruction of wall-paintings in the Roman villa in Lullingstone Park, near Eynsford, Kent, was described and illustrated last night to the Society of Antiquaries of London by Professor Jocelyn M.C. Toynbee and Mr. C.D.P. Nicholson.  The effect of the reconstruction, in the opinion of both lecturers, is to provide evidence of major importance about the early history of Christianity in Britain.

Nearly three years ago Lieutenant-Colonel Meates described to the Society of Antiquaries the progress of the excavation of the villa under his direction, and he mentioned the discovery of a deep basement room in which two marble busts had been found buried beneath a mass of fallen walls and roofing, and a large quantity of painted wall-plaster had been recovered.

It is these fragments which Mr. Nicholson has been fitting together in a workshop provided by the Institute of Archaeology.  The villa was destroyed by fire towards the end of the fourth century A.D.  At that time the upper room collapsed and fell into the basement, where the remains have lain undisturbed until the recent excavations.

The task (Mr. Nicholson explained) was to try and sort out 6,000 or 7,000 fragments of plaster.  These were the remains of six different walls, for a second room was discovered communicating by a door with the first.  A tentative theory is that the second was an outer room reserved for catechumans, and the position of the paintings suggests that they had a liturgical significance.  Their details reveal beyond question their Christian origin.

One of Largest

Professor Toynbee described the Lullingstone villa as one of the largest and most sumptuous yet excavated in Britain, and Mr. Nicholson’s three years’ “hard labour” on the painted plaster as having wrung a most exciting secret from the site.

In the fourth century A.D. some at least of the inhabitants of Britain were Christians – and Christians of wealth and importance.  At least one fair-sized room in the villa, and an ante-room leading into it, were apparently used for Christian worship.  This could not be definitely proved; but Christian connexions must obviously be suspected the moment it was realized that some of the reconstructed figures in the paintings were standing with arms extended laterally and open hands in the familiar position of “Orante,” or early Christian at prayer.  Two large representations of the Sacred Monogram of Chi-Rho revealed last January had, however, clinched the matter.

The probability seems that the chamber from which the paintings came, immediately above the basement-room, was a house-church or domestic chapel.  It was 20ft. wide from north to south, with its long axis running east and west for a length at present undetermined, and entered through a door at the west end of the north wall communicating with an ante-room, to which the less well preserved of the two monograms belonged.

On the west wall was a row of - originally – six figures.  Parts of five survived, and these were placed within the intercolumniations of a colonnade.  They were wearing brightly coloured, pearl-bedecked robes, with long sleeves fitting tightly at the wrists.  On the west end of the south wall, confronting the worshipper as he entered, in all likelihood, was the better preserved of the two monograms.

Worship in Houses

Miss Toynbee pointed to the evidence, literary and liturgical, showing that for the first three centuries the ecclesia, or assembly place of Christians, was for the most part in private houses.  With the “Peace of the Church” under Constantine, house-churches, at least in towns, were soon superseded by independent basilicas.  In country districts they were likely to have remained in use for many years, or even to have been installed in the first instance.  One could only speculate about when the upper room at Lullingstone became a chapel; but there was no reason why the paintings, of which the style and costumes suggested a fourth-century date, should not have been contemporary with the dedication of the room to Christian use.

At any rate the Lullingstone chamber could claim to be the earliest predominantly Christian room – perhaps the earliest certainly Christian place of worship – in this country so far known.

There could be little doubt that at present they possessed only a part of the chamber’s total decoration.  At what were the frontal figures on the west wall gazing?  At an altar of the Eucharistic Sacrifice and at other paintings, perhaps more important, on the west wall?  These questions could only be answered after more excavation; but at present a modern road and sewer barred the way to progress in the line on which the east wall stood.  The road was not too difficult or expensive to divert; the sewer was much more recalcitrant.

The paintings, by whomsoever executed, were unparalleled among works of art of the Roman period in Britain.
Title: Re: Lullingstone Roman Villa
Post by: kyn on June 18, 2012, 10:46:34
Monday 5th August, 1957

Country Mansion of the Roman Period in Britain

Discoveries at Lullingstone

Life in Roman Britain during the best part of four centuries is illustrated by the excavation now going forward in Lullingstone Park, Kent, in search of buried secrets.  Some of these secrets have been hidden under a road and a modern sewer, now diverted.  Others are still partly concealed in the hillside.  One was protected for centuries by a giant elm, now felled.
It is too easy to think of Roman rule in this island as a single episode, confined within a single period and so to be disposed of tidily within immutable dates.  These are the stuff of text-books.  The Lullingstone dig reminds us (and it is not alone in this) that we have in southern Britain to deal with a number of phases of an advancing civilization, differing from one another hardly less than the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in England.  And the emphasis is no longer on political history.  That can be the framework, no more.  The main interest is on the life men led.
Young people of both sexes are giving up part of their holidays to dig; and the Lullingstone excavation is benefitting from their industry and enthusiasm.

Valley Sanctuary

Three periods of the Roman occupation and three different parts of the site are being explored.  A fourth could be added if we were listing the unsolved problems.  This is the origin of the house-church and of the Upper Room where the Christian symbol Chi-Rho had once been painted on plaster – to fall or to be cast into a pit in thousands of fragments, still only partly reassembled.  The completed evidence, if it exists, lies at the southern edge of the site freed by the diversion of the road.  It would give this valley sanctuary even greater value as the earliest proven site of Christian worship in the British province if an altar were to be found since the Eucharist had been offered in the Catacombs on the tombs of the martyrs.
Secular interests, as we might expect, predominate elsewhere.  The pagan people (as we should have called them not very long ago) who once dwelt in this place had modern, if not rather more than modern, ideas on bathing and personal cleanliness.  A plunge bath had been provided in the second century in the bath-house almost beneath the ancestral elm tree – a noble giant craving also for water.  In the fourth century this bath-house was repaired and enlarged.  A sill exists still on which men sat and dangled their feet before plunging in.  Another, smaller, by its size must have been meant for children.

Efficient Laundry

On the opposite side of the site, and dug out of the hillside which had collapsed on top of it, the owner of this villa in the second century had added a household laundry.  All the essentials of an efficient service were present.  A rough mound at the back, built of brick, tile, and stone without mortar, was available either for bleaching the linen or hanging it out before washing.  A tank, provided with hot water from a furnace close by, was used for treading out the dirty clothes, as is done in many a Continental town to-day and was done by Nausicaa and her maidens in the Odyssey.  There was a hypocaust and additional heater or boiler.  A drain behind carried off the water.
The holes still remain into which stakes were driven for a portable beehive clothes-airer.  The Mannequin d’Osier of Anatole France represented a shapely lady; the beehive of Roman-British antiquity was more in the nature of a well nourished female: she is figured in Kentish archaeological records as being carried triumphantly by three or four slaves.
Beneath the diverted road is a group of rooms of much interest.  Stairs led down to a second-century room named the Deep Chamber.  A stair leads up again, and another down.  That is to say, the whole group is on two levels but approached by a single flight of stairs.  A third-century arch, in excellent preservation, has been pierced in the wall leading to the hypocaust which supplied hot air to the rooms above.

Panal Decorations

Another jig-saw puzzle of fragments of painted plaster has come from this complex of rooms.  The fragments show that the walls of the staircase as well as some of the rooms were decorated in panels with a palm-tree motive.  The palm tree is in more than one shade of green; it is often naturalistic, as though growing in some Mediterranean or eastern surroundings; the bunches of dates seen almost edible.  Who then was the country gentleman of the third century who gave the order for decorating his new rooms?  He may not have been a Roman at all.  He likes eastern colours and patterns.  But he loved this Kentish valley – and it may have been he who buried his old hunting dog in the wall of the granary across the way.
We are in the presence (we can feel) not of ghosts but of men and women with “like appetites” to ourselves, whose dogs were friends, whose houses and their planning reflect good cheer and civilized habits, to whom a country life offered a satisfaction of its own – the more if, like Horace, they escaped to it from the sophistication of the town.
The whole site is now in the guardianship of the Ancient Monuments Board of the Ministry of Works.  Lieutenant-Colonel G. W. Meates is in charge of the excavation, while Mr. C.D.P. Nicholson is continuing the laborious task of piecing plaster into historic documents and pursuing the dim story of the earliest years of British Christianity.  Remains of another Roman building are suggesting themselves north of the laundry.  Every spadeful can here be significant.

Title: Re: Lullingstone Roman Villa
Post by: kyn on June 19, 2012, 09:27:13
Wednesday 6th August, 1958

No Digging Below Roman Pavement

Antiquary Disagrees with Ministry

In spite of what might be called an honest difference of opinion on the subject, the Ancient Monuments Board of the Ministry of Works have definitely decided not to carry out any excavation beneath the pavement of the Roman house at Lullingstone Park, Kent.

Excavation, with the assistance of volunteer diggers, has been going on at Lullingstone for some time, and extensive “finds” have been made.  They include a group of rooms, a bath-house, a house-church where the Christian symbol “Chi-Rho” had been painted on plaster, a hypocaust, and a third-century arch.  The excavation has demonstrated progressive changes on the site over four centuries.

A spokesman of the Ministry told The Times yesterday that the board felt that the only reason for embarking on a procedure which might spoil the pavement would be to establish its date.  This had already been established.  The board hop to take steps to preserve the pavement in situ.

This reply does not dispose of the concern of Dr. Gordon Ward, of Sevenoaks, an antiquary who knows the site well.  He said yesterday that he was “far from satisfied” with the board’s attitude and he believes that other knowledgeable persons share his concern.  Further excavation beneath the pavement might, he suggests, assist in an accurate planning of the various stages of development of the site.  This, he says, is “absolutely essential” if the finds at Lullingstone are to be presented as a “coherent story of the progress, or otherwise, of social life between A.D. 43 and A.D. 410.”

In the meantime, according to Dr. Ward, the pavement is steadily decaying.  The Ministry do not accept this statement.  The board, they say, are aware of the necessity of preventing deterioration and, to this end, propose to erect a roof over the site.  No definite date has been fixed for this, but the Ministry hope that it will be done “fairly soon.”

Thank god Dr. Ward’s suggestion was not brought into being!
Title: Re: Lullingstone Roman Villa
Post by: kyn on June 19, 2012, 16:30:54
Wednesday 23rd March, 1960

Roman Villa

Grants towards the repair and maintenance of historic buildings and their contents are expected to be increased from £475,000 to £550,000.  In the total of £760,000 allowed for expenditure on ancient monuments there is a token sum of £100 for the commencement of work on a protective superstructure and museum to be built at the Lullingstone Roman Villa in Kent, where the earliest evidence of Christian worship in Britain was discovered.
Title: Re: Lullingstone Roman Villa
Post by: Fred the Needle on June 20, 2012, 14:28:25
I can't find the answer anywhere in the texts but when was the Villa opened to the general public?

I think I was 9 or possibly 10 when I went one Saturday with the Museum Club at Rochester Museum to have a tour around the Villa - so that would make it 1962/63.

I recall the guide being extremely interesting - he even had a small model of a Roman catapult to explain part of the tour.  He must have been interesting if I can remember that  :)
Title: Re: Lullingstone Roman Villa
Post by: kyn on June 20, 2012, 14:49:26
There are still some articles to be added.  The Villa was available to visit during the excavation but it was about 62/3 that it was covered.
Title: Re: Lullingstone Roman Villa
Post by: kyn on June 20, 2012, 18:48:23
Wednesday 3rd April, 1963

Roman Villa Gets 142ft. Roof

Any ghosts of Romans haunting the lovely valley of the River Darent in Kent might be excused some surprise at the latest effort of the Ministry of Public Building and Works to preserve the remnants of the past.    Over the remains of the Lullingstone villa – described as the most spectacular of the Roman villas in England to have been preserved for the public to see – a large barn-like building has been erected to protect them from the weather and to enable them to be visited throughout the year.

The building, which measures 142ft. by 50ft., is timber framed.  Steel roof beams encased in timber span and the whole width, doing away with the need for central supporting pillars and providing visitors with an uninterrupted view.  The sloping roof and the walls are of asbestos corrugated sheeting with sections of translucent corrugated sheeting to provide as much natural lighting as possible.  Electric lamps are used to spotlight features of particular interest, and a gallery allows the ruins to be examined from above.

At the official opening yesterday Mr. Sharoles, Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Public Building and Works, said the building was an attempt to provide some thing better in the way of protection for the excavated remains.

Local Opposition

However laudable the Ministry’s intentions and however well suited the building may be for its purpose, from the outside at least, it is scarcely an object of beauty.  Designed by the Ministry’s Chief Architect, Mr. Eric Bedford, and officially described, perhaps with a hint of apology, as following the natural contour of the hillside, it looks something like an aircraft hanger or a giant greenhouse without the glass.  At one time glass panels were considered, but the idea was dropped as they were regarded as too vulnerable to gangs of youths.

There has been some local opposition and one resident yesterday described the building as an eyesore.  It was, he felt, a waste of money – some £22,000 – which could better have been given to charity.
Title: Re: Lullingstone Roman Villa
Post by: kyn on June 21, 2012, 09:19:23
Monday 17th May, 1965


Sir, - There is one feature of the Roman mosaic from Hinton St. Mary illustrated in your issue of May 11 that I find extremely intriguing.  This is the juxtaposition on the one floor of the Christian symbol Chi-Rho and a depiction of the pagan myth of Bellerophon.

One such isolated example might not be significant.  But I find it very provocative that in the Lullingstone Roman villa the same two features exist.  There is a mosaic floor, dated to the mid-forth century, the central figure of which is Bellerophon.  The walls of two others room (c. 350-360 A.D., and thius approximately contemporaneous with the mosaic) were decorated with the Chi-Rho monogram.  Here again, therefore, we seem to have the Christian and Bellerophon themes used at about the same time in one building.

Could it perhaps be that the figure of Bellerophon was adopted by Christians in pre-Augustinian Britain as a symbol of the triumph of truth over error?  If so, there may have been attempts in post-Augustinian England to provide a Christian explanation for the images of the mounted dragon-slayer, at a time when the Bellerophon story was forgotten.  Did St. George’s name become associated with that explanation and is the Christiananized Bellerophon the prototype of St. George?

It would be interested ti know if there are other British sites where Christian objects have been found, or where Bellerophon is also depicted.

Yours faithfully,
B. SH. Saklatvala.
Title: Re: Lullingstone Roman Villa
Post by: kyn on June 22, 2012, 19:14:53
Tuesday 13th August , 1996

Ideal home that fell apart when the peasants moved in

A lost villa on the fertile banks of the River Darent in Kent was one of the most significant archaeological discoveries this century, opening wide a window on life in affluent Roman Britain.

Sealed against the ravages of time by soil slippage, the Lullingstone site was to yield an astonishing harvest of treasures when excavated almost 50 years ago.  The succession of wealthy farming families who lived here plainly spared no expense on life’s little luxuries.

The villa, originally built in timber-and-daub in about AD 75, changed in appearance regularly until the last occupants abandoned it towards the end of Empire.  Each gentleman farmer left a little of his times behind.

A more idyllic setting is hard to imagine; clear river water, rich pasturage, arable fields and gently rolling countryside.  There were other Roman villas along the length of the Darent, but none to compare with Lullingstone.

A rather ugly cover building was erected over the site in the 1950s when its significance was fully appreciated.  Once inside, though, the unprepossessing exterior is forgotten.  Laid out before the visitor are a series of rectangular rooms, two magnificent mosaics, clearly discernible wall paintings and a Christian chapel.

At the north end of the villa are extensive baths, added in about AD 180.  The owner’s taste was extravagantly hedonistic, even by Roman standards.  He had hot, tepid and cold rooms, a laconicum or sweating-room (forerunner to today’s sauna) and a large cold plunge pool.

Bathing was an important daily ritual at Lullingstone.  Slaves with clean towels and lotions pampered their master, his family and their guests while they chatted, laid wagers or simply dozed in the heat.  Aptly enough, there was an aquatic decorative theme.  The last owner commissioned a mural artist to paint various fish on the bath walls.

However, any question mark over taste in decoration is banished when the visitor views the beautiful mosaics in the triclinium – an audience chamber and dining room.  They are quite stunning.  The classical obsession with symmetry and order has been translated into timeless beauty.  The mosaics depict the abduction of Europa by Jupiter, disguised as a white bull, and the mythical hero Bellerophon, mounted on Pegasus, killing the Chimaera, a fire-breathing monster.

Europa, in a transparent robe, appears curiously indifferent to imminent violation.  She smiles vacantly as a pair of anxious cupids attempt to prevent the bull having his way.  The second mosaic is even more impressive.  Bellerophon gathers his reins and urges Pegasus on to trample the Chimaera – a nightmare creature with a lion’s head and serpent’s tail.

At the edge of the main panel are four dolphins and two open oyster shells.  Around the border beyond are figures representing three of the four seasons.  Winter frowns from a hooded cloak, there is a swallow on spring’s shoulder and autumn is crowned with ripe corn.  Sadly, summer has gone – the tiles, or tesserae, lost after the villa was abandoned.  The two mosaics are separated by a geometrically perfect panel featuring squares, octagons, hearts and swastikas.

Many other priceless treasures were unearthed at Lullingstone; more than 400 coins, Greek busts and a magnificent gem – the Cornelian Intaglio – carved with the image of Winged Victory.  The Christian wall paintings – the sole surviving examples from a villa in Roman Britain – featuring a sacred monogram of Christ and worshippers at prayer.  Though primitive, the work has a tranquil beauty.

By the end of the 4th century, the villa was falling into disrepair and had been badly damaged by fire.  When the last gentleman farmer and his family left, it was pillaged by peasants who had long envied their landlord’s affluence.  Only the mudslide brought an end to the vandalism, burying the villa and preserving one of Britain’s finest Roman sites.
Title: Re: Lullingstone Roman Villa
Post by: smiffy on June 22, 2012, 21:06:51
I remember going on a school trip to Lullingstone. It had already been roofed over so this must have been about 1964. I recall being told that it had been rediscovered as a result of workmen digging a hole for a street post of some kind and hitting one of the mosaic floors. I seem to remember the damaged spot where they hit it was pointed out to us by the guide.
Title: Re: Lullingstone Roman Villa
Post by: Easyg on March 21, 2014, 19:11:35
I remember going on a school trip to Lullingstone. It had already been roofed over so this must have been about 1964. I recall being told that it had been rediscovered as a result of workmen digging a hole for a street post of some kind and hitting one of the mosaic floors. I seem to remember the damaged spot where they hit it was pointed out to us by the guide.
I went on a school trip to Lullingstone, about that time. I was at Downs Secondary.
Title: Re: Lullingstone Roman Villa
Post by: HERB COLLECTOR on September 14, 2015, 23:46:54
Wall painting from Lullingstone villa.

© Trustees of the British Museum. Museum number 1967, 0407.1.b
Reconstructed section of plaster wall painting. Depicts colonade of seven columns, alternating blue and red, with half-columns at each end. Each of the six spaces between columns contains a human figure, each standing in a Christian attitude of prayer with arms outstrectched.

This wall painting was found at Lullingstone, Kent, in the Darenth valley, when the remains of a Roman villa were excavated in 1949. The villa had been built in the late first century AD, and altered and extended several times in the succeeding 300 years. There was evidence for pagan worship at the site well into the fourth century AD, but eventually the family which ran the estate adopted Christianity. At this early date in the history of Christianity, house-chapels and other types of accommodation must have been at least as common as purpose-built churches. A small suite of first-floor rooms at Lullingstone (probably provided with external access) was set aside as a Christian place of worship.

The walls were decorated with elaborate paintings on Christian themes, which have been partly reconstructed. This area shows a frieze of praying figures. The figures pose with upraised hands in an attitude still used by Christian priests when praying before a congregation.
Title: Re: Lullingstone Roman Villa
Post by: HERB COLLECTOR on September 15, 2015, 00:14:42
Wall painting from Lullingstone villa.

© Trustees of the British Museum. Museum number 1967, 0407.1.a

Reconstructed section of plaster wall painting. Roundel in the form of a wreath of leaves and flowers, containing the chi-rho monogram. Roundel placed between two painted columns. Columns and wreath painted in polychrome, chi-rho painted in red on white background.

This wall painting was found at Lullingstone, Kent, in the Darenth valley, when the remains of a Roman villa were excavated in 1949. The villa had been built in the late first century AD, and altered and extended several times in the succeeding 300 years. There was evidence for pagan worship at the site well into the fourth century AD, but eventually the family which ran the estate adopted Christianity. At this early date in the history of Christianity, house-chapels and other types of accommodation must have been at least as common as purpose-built churches. A small suite of first-floor rooms at Lullingstone (probably provided with external access) was set aside as a Christian place of worship.

The walls were decorated with elaborate paintings on Christian themes, which have been partially reconstructed. This area bears a monogram formed by the Greek letters chi and rho, the first two letters of Christ's name, which was the standard symbol of Christianity at this period, together with the Greek letters alpha and omega, the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, another symbol of Christ - 'I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last'  (Revelation 1:8).

Title: Re: Lullingstone Roman Villa
Post by: HERB COLLECTOR on October 04, 2016, 22:06:38
The villa was built around 80-100AD, enlarged in around 150AD and burnt down in the 5th century.
At one point it was probably the home of Publius Helvius Pertinax, governor of Britain 185-187AD. The two portrait busts found at the villa have been identified as Pertinax and probably his father.
Pertinax became emperor 1 January 193AD after the assassination of Commodus. He in turn was assassinated 87 days later by the Praetorian Guard who resented, along with much of the population, the austerity he imposed.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1304086/Lullingstone-Roman-Villa-treasures-reveal-home-future-Emperor.html (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1304086/Lullingstone-Roman-Villa-treasures-reveal-home-future-Emperor.html)

http://www.roman-empire.net/decline/pertinax.html (http://www.roman-empire.net/decline/pertinax.html)