Lullingstone Roman Villa is an English Heritage Site situated in North Kent.
Modern day knowledge of the villa and excavation of it started in 1949 after roof tiles were found when a tree blew down. Today we are treated to the walls of a house and evidence of how people lived in Roman Britain there having been extensive excavations at the site.
The villa was inhabited for 300 years or more and excavation has revealed how the house prospered and expanded. The mosaic floor viewed from the dining room is still relatively complete given the passage of time. The house would have been lived in between the first and fifth Century, when Roman rule in Britain ended.
One particular find, the fragments of painted plaster which revealed signs of Christianity, are incredibly important in what we know of Roman Britain throughout the country as they are possibly the earliest evidence of Christianity in the Britain. The reconstructed wall painting is now with the British Museum.
The remains of the villa are hosted in a large building where the walls of the Roman Villa are central. An upstairs segment to the display allows you to look down on the villa. A film that shows at regular intervals clearly explains each room and how it would have been used, using lights to highlight which room is being spoken about. Everything is relatively simple in presentation allowing this to be child friendly and therefore very educational. We’re just two adults interested in Roman history though so for us it was of a level that we understood what we were looking at and didn’t feel patronised.
I remember visiting Pompeii when I was 17 and being incredulous that they had underfloor heating. Here at Lullingstone there is evidence of this too (as there was at the Painted House in Dover a few weeks ago).
There is a Deep Room in the house. It appears that a Pagan cult was followed in the basement to it whilst upstairs became the Christian room. Until the legalisation of Christianity in AD313 the country was Pagan. And Paganism didn’t disappear upon the final acceptance of Christianity.
Evidence at the site suggests that the the people who lived at Lullingstone were wealthy and there is a possibility that at one time a future Roman Emperor lived there. Two busts found in the deep room were from Greece and have been identified as representing Publius Helvius Pertina and his father. The former was Governor of Britannia in AD185-6 and Emperor for three months!
My favourite part was definitely the well preserved mosaic floor in the audience chamber. I found the imagery fascinating. The main image is of Bellerophon, Prince of Corinth, who on the winged horse Pegasus, killed the chimera, a fire-breathing she-monster. The scene is surrounded by four roundels which depict the seasons.
There are cabinets throughout that contain interesting artefacts found at the site. I found the jewellery interesting as well as the kitchen pots.
At the end of the exhibition I particularly liked the recipe book… actually the Peppered Sweet Cake sounds ok, not too keen on the milk fed snails.