Rare ‘remarkable’ Roman mosaic found in a farmer’s field in Rutland | UK News
A rare, centuries-old Roman mosaic was found in a farmer’s field.
The artwork, which dates back to the 3rd or 4th century CE, depicts a scene from Homer’s Iliad – the epic fight between Achilles and the Trojan hero Hector – and is one of the few mosaics in this guy in Europe.
It was discovered during excavations of an elaborate villa complex discovered at a site in Rutland, Historic England said.
Such is its rarity and importance, the site has been officially protected as a listed monument by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS), it was announced Thursday.
Duncan Wilson, Managing Director of Historic England, called the find “remarkable”.
The mosaic formed the floor of a large entertainment or dining space inside the villa, possibly owned by a wealthy person from the late Roman period.
The site itself was discovered during last year’s lockdown by Jim Irvine, whose father Brian Naylor owns the land.
Mr Irvine then informed authorities, which led to an excavation by the archaeological services of the University of Leicester (ULAS).
He described how what started as “a walk through the fields with the family” led to “the incredible discovery”.
“Finding unusual pottery among the wheat piqued my interest and prompted further investigative work,” he said.
“Later, looking at the satellite imagery, I spotted a very sharp cut mark, as if someone had drawn on my computer screen with a piece of chalk.
“It really was the ‘oh wow’ moment.”
Archaeologists then discovered remains of the mosaic, measuring 11 m (36 feet) by almost 7 m (22.9 feet).
It is unique to the UK by starring two heroes of antiquity, Achilles and Hector, and their battle which ultimately ended in the death of Hector.
John Thomas, of ULAS, said it was “the most exciting Roman mosaic find in the UK in the last century” and a “very well-preserved example of a villa in its entirety”.
He added that the person who commissioned the artwork clearly had “a knowledge of the classics … who had the money to order a piece of such detail”.
Other buildings and features revealed by surveys of the land include what appear to be barns with naves, circular structures, and a possible public bath, all in a series of boundary ditches.
Human remains were also discovered and were reportedly buried after the building was no longer occupied.
The excavation, on private land, has now been backfilled to protect the site and work will continue to potentially turn the field into meadow to reduce the risk of future damage from plowing.
Heritage Minister Nigel Huddleston said: “This fascinating find of an elaborate Roman complex in Rutland helps us better understand our history.
“I am delighted that we have protected this site to help with further studies and excavations.”
The discovery of the Rutland Villa and the mosaic filming will be featured as part of BBC Two’s Digging For Britain in early 2022.