The remains of an enormous Roman villa have been discovered in Oxfordshire which date back to 99 CE, and this remarkable find is the second largest Roman villa that has ever been found in England.
Along with the villa itself, the sarcophagus of a woman was also discovered, along with coins, a boar tusk, and a host of other ancient Roman artifacts, the Daily Mail reported.
The discovery was made by Keith Westcott, who is an amateur historian and detectorist, with the Roman remains found deep beneath a crop very close to Broughton Castle.
The remains of a foundation of a building found at this Roman site in Oxfordshire were discovered to run 278 feet by 278 feet, which makes it even larger than the Taj Mahal’s mausoleum, with the mausoleum only spanning 187 feet by 187 feet. The only Roman villa that has been found in England that is larger than this one is Fishbourne Palace in West Sussex, which was in use around 75 CE and was found back in 1960.
Interestingly, the land where the Roman village was discovered is now owned by Martin Fiennes, who just happens to be the third cousin of actor Ralph Fiennes.
Roman mega-villa the same size as Buckingham Palace is found in Oxfordshire https://t.co/E3laN4BZKc
— Daily Mail U.K. (@DailyMailUK) August 24, 2018
Westcott became interested in this part of Oxfordshire after John Taylor, a local farmer, mentioned to him that he had accidentally plowed into an unusually large stone with a hole inside of it in 1963, in which he found the remains of a human bone. Along with this bone, the farmer also made the miraculous discovery of a sarcophagus of a female who had lived sometime during the third or fourth century.
Intrigued, Westcott determined that he would explore this area and happened upon a beautifully preserved 1,800-year-old tile where the Roman villa would have once stood. This tile was later determined to have been part of a hypocaust system, which was how the Romans obtained their central heating in lavish buildings.
After this discovery, Westcott ascertained that he had truly stumbled on something that was of “unimaginable quality and significance.” Archaeologists from Oxford Archaeology joined him soon after this and began digging trenches to more accurately determine what may be beneath the soil.
After using magnotomerty at this Oxfordshire site of the Roman villa, archaeologists had a much clearer picture of the size and scope of the building. It was discovered that the villa would have once held an ornate dining room, kitchens, living spaces, and a massive bath-house complete with a lavish domed roof overhead.
Westcott explained that he was very pleased that he had followed through on a hunch and had made such an important discovery.
“Most of the other big courtyard villas were discovered in the 1800s and excavated using Victorian techniques. All of the other discoveries had been done so by accident but in this instance I had a theory and went with it. The villa would be the real center of rural industry and agriculture and although the persons living there would have been very wealthy and powerful there would have been all sorts of things going on from the cooks to slaves.”
According to Martin Fiennes, who was also actively involved in the digging process, it is hoped that major universities like Oxford will be interested in performing a full-scale excavation of the Roman villa.
“The next step will be for me to reach out to various universities, starting with Oxford, to see if they are interested in leading a project to do a full excavation over a period of years. Obviously we would like someone to do it who can involve the local community as much as possible as well as comprehensively recording the site. If no-one wants to do it, then it stays happily undisturbed for another 50 or 100 years until someone comes up with the money and interest.”
Now that this enormous and ancient Roman villa in Oxfordfordshire has been discovered, it is hoped that major excavations will be conducted so that historians can learn more about life as it was lived here during Roman times.