About Lullingstone Roman Villa
Lullingstone Roman Villa is a fine example of a 1st Century Roman villa. Built roughly 50 years after the Roman conquest of Britain, Lullingstone Roman Villa was home to the wealthier elements of Romano-British society.
A villa stood on the site for over 300 years before its eventual destruction and abandonment. Today Lullingstone Roman Villa is operated by English Heritage and boasts a number of impressive mosaics and even evidence of early Christian worship in Britain, with the remains of an ancient Christian chapel.
Other features at Lullingstone Roman Villa include Roman artefacts, video recreations and interactive attractions for children such as Roman board games and costumes.
History of Lullingstone Roman Villa
Lullingstone Roman Villa is among the most outstanding surviving Roman villas in Britain. Situated in the village of Eynsford in Kent, the villa was built during the Roman occupation of Britain along with six others, including in Crofton, Crayford, and Dartford, which were all close to a Roman road which could connect them to London, Rochester, Canterbury, and Richborough.
It was likely constructed in around 80-90 AD, and was expanded in around 150 AD to include a heated bath block and hypocaust (central heating). It was later rebuilt in around 290 AD after being left abandoned for around a century.
Two marble busts were found in the cellar which may depict the owners of the villa. However, there is some evidence that the busts may depict Pertinax, governor of Britannia in 185-186 AD (and later Roman emperor) and his father.
In the 3rd century, a large furnace to supply the hypocaust as well as an expanded bath block were added, as well as a temple-mausoleum and large granary.
In the 4th century, the dining room was equipped with a fine mosaic floor with an illustration of Zeus or Jupiter.
The villa was repeatedly expanded and occupied until it was destroyed by fire in the 4th or 5th century, after which it was abandoned and forgotten until it was excavated in the 20th century.
It was also re-discovered in 1750, when workers fencing a deer park dug post holes through a mosaic floor.
It was only in 1939 that excavations were able to properly take place after Roman walls and mosaic fragments were unearthed beneath a blown-down tree.
In the 1960s, English Heritage took over the site, preserving the ruins under a specially-designed cover, and opening them to the public.
Lullingstone Roman Villa Today
Today, the villa is open to visitors, who can enjoy the ruins and its mosaics under the purpose-built roof.
The pagan shrine, which later became one of Britain’s earliest Christian chapels, is also a particular highlight, as is the Romano-Celtic temple-mausoleum which was constructed in 300AD to hold the bodies of two young people. Though the female’s coffin was robbed in antiquity, the other remained undisturbed and is now on display at the site.
Getting to Lullingstone Roman Villa
From the centre of Dartford, the villa is reachable in around 20 minutes via the A225 road by car. There is also a regular schedule of connecting buses and trains which take just over two hours from the centre of Dartford.
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