New survey reveals extent of Roman villa complex found at Rutland.

In November 2021, the discovery of a large mosaic depicting Homer’s Iliad was announced by a team from the University of Leicester, working in partnership with Historic England near Luffenham in Rutland, England.

The mosaic made international headlines, as very few mosaics depicting the Iliad’s story about the legendary battle between Achilles and the Trojan Prince Hector have been discovered from the Roman world.

Archaeologists at the time suggested that the 11m by almost 7m mosaic formed the floor of a dining area from a villa building, dated to around the 3rd and 4th century AD during the late Roman period.

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A geophysical study and further archaeological evaluations in 2021 identified several supporting buildings, including what appeared to be aisled barns, a possible bath house, circular structures and a series of boundary ditches.

As part of a new geophysical study by SUMO Geophysics Ltd, geophysicists surveyed the wider area using ground-penetrating radar and magnetometry, revealing that the villa complex covered an area as large as five football pitches. As well as residential structures, features in the survey data show indications of a formal garden, a bath house, a chapel and mausoleum.

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Dr John Gater from SUMO Geophysics Ltd told the BBC: “This is the largest site we have worked on and on a par with the largest villas in the Cotswolds.” Gater added “To find a mosaic is exciting, but to find the whole complex it is part of is really impressive.”

Excavation work led by the University of Leicester and funded by Historic England is due to resume later this year.

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