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Author Topic: Lullingstone Roman Villa  (Read 19912 times)

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Offline kyn

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Re: Lullingstone Roman Villa
« Reply #21 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.

Offline kyn

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Re: Lullingstone Roman Villa
« Reply #20 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.

Offline kyn

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Re: Lullingstone Roman Villa
« Reply #19 on: June 07, 2012, 17:04:44 »
Friday, 9th September, 1949

Jig-Saw

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.

Offline kyn

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Re: Lullingstone Roman Villa
« Reply #18 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.

Offline kyn

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Re: Lullingstone Roman Villa
« Reply #17 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.”

Offline kyn

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Re: Lullingstone Roman Villa
« Reply #16 on: June 06, 2012, 18:49:30 »
Some other items found during the excavation.  Items of decoration or parts of board games.

Offline kyn

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Re: Lullingstone Roman Villa
« Reply #15 on: June 06, 2012, 15:27:40 »
The busts.

Offline kyn

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Re: Lullingstone Roman Villa
« Reply #14 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!

Offline Lyn L

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Re: Lullingstone Roman Villa
« Reply #13 on: June 06, 2012, 15:24:05 »
Thanks again Kyn,
Just recently read a book about Marcus Aurelius ( fiction though )  :)
Half our life is spent trying to find something to do with the time we have rushed through life tryi

Offline kyn

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Re: Lullingstone Roman Villa
« Reply #12 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.

Offline kyn

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Re: Lullingstone Roman Villa
« Reply #11 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.

Offline kyn

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Re: Lullingstone Roman Villa
« Reply #10 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.

Offline kyn

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Re: Lullingstone Roman Villa
« Reply #9 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.

Offline kyn

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Re: Lullingstone Roman Villa
« Reply #8 on: June 05, 2012, 16:49:45 »
Early picture of one of the mosaics.

Offline kyn

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Re: Lullingstone Roman Villa
« Reply #7 on: June 05, 2012, 14:36:41 »
 :)  Enjoy the grapes :)

 

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