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Rare Roman Mosaic in Farmer's Field is UK's 'Most Important' Find in 100 Years

By: Buzz Staff

News18.com

Last Updated: November 26, 2021, 11:43 IST

Jim Irvine first stumbled upon the "unusual pottery" amid the pandemic lockdown in 2020. Credits: Representative image

Jim Irvine first stumbled upon the "unusual pottery" amid the pandemic lockdown in 2020. Credits: Representative image

A farmer's field in Rutland has uncovered a rare Roman mosaic and villa thought to be the most significant find of its kind in the last century.

A rare Roman mosaic, the first of its kind, and a villa complex have been discovered from a farmer’s field in the UK. The mosaic illustrates scenes from Homer’s ‘The Iliad’ and the Greek hero Achilles. It was found beneath ploughed fields in Rutland. The site is now protected as a Scheduled Monument by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) on the advice of Historic England. It is believed that the villa could have belonged to a rich individual from the Roman age. According to a BBC report, Jim Irvine, son of landowner Brian Naylor, first stumbled upon the “unusual pottery" pattern amid the pandemic lockdown in 2020. He got in touch with the archaeological team of Leicestershire County Council. Historic England sanctioned an urgent funding for investigation by the University of Leicester archaeologists. “My family have been farming this land for 50 or 60 years. To see something that has been undisturbed for 1700 years or so has been amazing," BBC quoted Irvine in a statement.

Historic England termed the discovery as one of the most “remarkable and significant…” ever in Britain. The mosaic is thought to have been the floor of a dining or entertaining space of the complex. There were also barns, circular structures and a probable bath house found around the villa. Mythological mosaics used to be a regular feature in Roman Empire buildings, but this particular discovery is considered as unique because it depicts Achilles and the battle with Hector towards the end of the Trojan War. The villa could probably have been owned by a person with an interest of knowledge in classical literature between the 3rd and 4th Century AD and the money to execute incorporating the finer details. As of now, only a small portion of the huge site has been excavated, with more digging planned for 2022.

According to the BBC, John Thomas, deputy director of the University of Leicester Archaeological Services and project manager on the excavations called it the “most exciting Roman mosaic discovery in the UK in the last century.” He also added that the discovery entails new perspectives on the people who lived 1500 years ago, their attitudes and links to literature.

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Although the site is not open to the public, Historic England said that there are tentative plans with Rutland County Council for an off-site display of the findings. Irvine added that the farming field would be preserved and will no longer be used for agricultural purposes.

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first published:November 26, 2021, 10:21 IST
last updated:November 26, 2021, 11:43 IST