A model of the palatial villa at Fishbourne near Chichester.

Many have compared, either directly or indirectly, some of the Romano-British Villas to the English stately homes of the eighteenth-century. These Roman country residences were large, opulent and obviously the residences of wealthy and powerful individuals. The architecture and art in these residences were a sign of the political significance of these individuals: the buildings included such features as columns and balustrades, and were extravagantly decorated with mosaic floors, wall-paintings and marble statuary. One of the earliest of these palatial villas can be seen just outside of Chichester. Not all the Romano-British villas were this palatial, the vast majority were much smaller farmhouses that were more modestly decorated

Villas

Bignor Roman Villa
The hypocaust floor, with mosaics.Situated in the heart of the South Downs National Park are the remnants of the Bignor Roman Villa. Amongst the features on display is one of the longest villa corridors in the UK, and only a third of it has been exposed; a dining room with a hypocaust floor; and some of the finest mosaics in England. The walls and mosaic floors of the Villa were discovered over 200 years ago and are still covered by the original Georgian buildings constructed to protect the mosaics; these unique buildings have their own historical significance. [ Website ]


Brading Roman Villa
The Museum at Brading Roman VillaIn a designated area of outstanding natural beauty, Brading Roman Villa is one of the finest Romano-British archaeological sites in the UK, with some of the best preserved mosaics in northern Europe. The villa started out as a simple farmstead, but by the time it was destroyed by fire towards the end of the 3rd century it was an impressive villa surrounding three sides of a central courtyard. The main building of the villa is now entirely exposed and under the cover of an ward-wining and ecologically sensitive exhibition and visitor centre. [ Website ]


Chedworth Roman Villa
The museum and custodian's house.The Roman Villa at Chedworth is thought to be one of the largest of its kind in Britain, and one of the richest in the 4th century AD. During your visit you can see a number of well preserved, features of a typical Roman villa; these include a latrine, bath houses, a dining room that has magnificent mosaic floors, as well as a nymphaeum – a shrine sited at a natural spring. On a wet day you might even encounter some large snails, these are the very descendants of those introduced by the Romans for food … read more.


Great Witcombe Roman Villa
Foundations of just one portion of what was a large Roman villa.Set on the steep slopes of Birdlip Hill, Great Witcombe Roman Villa is unusual for Roman country residences of this period in that it was built on four terraces, which required the walls to be buttressed to stabilize them. Based on coins found during excavations, it is thought to have been built in the 3rd century AD, and occupied until the 5th. The reconstructed layout of the various rooms that make up the villa is accessible, but due to the villa’s rather remote location, the mosaics are not open to the public. [Website]


Littlecote Roman Villa
The striking Orpheus mosaic at Littlecote Roman VillaOver a period of less than four hundred years, what started out as a simple military post guarding a river crossing developed into a villa with agricultural activities, which was then converted into a substantial religious complex that accommodated pilgrims. The villa is best known for its mosaic floor depicting Orpheus, restored in the late 1970s, depicting Orpheus. The mosaic decorates a reception room with three apses, unique in Britain but popular in Italy and north Africa during the 4th century AD.


Lullingstone Roman Villa
Remains of the villa walls inside the visitor's centre at Lullingstone Roman Villa.Construction of the Lullingstone villa began around 100 AD, with its most opulent period sometime around the middle of the 4th century AD. On display are the exquisite in situ remains of the mosaic floors as well as prints of more rare examples of wall paintings. One of the earliest Christian shrines in Britain has been found here. As one of the most well preserved of the Roman villas in England, the remains are all under cover, making this a an all-weather attraction close to London. A light show is used to bring the villa back to life. [ Website ]


Rockbourne Roman Villa
Mosaic floor in what was the dining room of the Rockbourne Roman Villa. Near the New Forest, this Roman Villa with over forty rooms was one of the largest in the area and centre of a substantial farming estate up until the fifth century AD. Discovered in 1942, excvations have revealed extensive farm buildings and workshops, as well as living quarters and bath houses. Although some of the villa has been reburied for preservation reasons, still on display at the open-air outline of the villa are some of the better mosaic floors and parts of the underfloor heating systems. [ Website ]


Museums

Corinium Museum
Portion of the Orpheus Mosaic with the menacing tiger.In the fourth century AD two groups of Roman mosaicists were based in Corinium Dobunnorum, the present day town of Cirencester. Together they made many of the mosaic floors for the wealthy villa owners in the area. The Cotswolds area is well known for exquisite mosaics, many of which can now be seen in the impressive displays of the award-wining Corinium Museum. As Roman Cirencester was the second largest town in Britain, the museum has one of the largest and finest collections of antiquities and mosaics in the country. [ Website ]


Museum of London
Reconstructed dining room in the Museum of London. For the history of London, from the beginning to its recent past, the Museum of London is the museum to visit. Besides extensive displays on the prehistory of the area, the museum has a very extensive set of displays about Londinium covering all aspects of the Roman period in this great city. An original and well preserved mosaic floor found during construction work in London is used in a wonderful reconstruction of a Roman triclinium, or dining room, in the home of a relatively wealthy family.