Ancient Roman villa uncovered in British backyard

TISBURY, England, April 17 (UPI) — The remains of an ancient Roman villa were unearthed in England by a homeowner laying underground electric cables.

Parts of the upscale home, built around 220 AD with at least 20 rooms on the ground floor, were found under the backyard of a 17th century home near the town of Tisbury in Britain’s Wiltshire area after an eight-day archeological dig sponsored by Historic England and the local Salisbury Museum.

“The discovery of such an elaborate and extraordinarily well-preserved villa, undamaged by agriculture for over 1500 years, is unparalleled in recent years. Overall, the excellent preservation, large scale and complexity of this site present a unique opportunity to understand Roman and post-Roman Britain,” said archeologist David Roberts of Historic England.

Parts of modern-day Britain were in the Roman Empire until the 6th century AD.

The find was uncovered when the owner of the backyard, Luke Irwin, was rebuilding an old barn and sought to add electricity. After some digging he unearthed a floor mosaic only 18 inches beneath the surface, leading to the archeological quest.

Exploratory excavation revealed the walls, and estimates that the structure was three stories tall and over 300 feet long.

Experts also identified a planter Irwin had been using to hold geraniums as an ancient coffin for a child. The dig also uncovered coins, jewelry, animal bones and oyster shells which were brought inland from the British coast, suggesting a family of wealth and influence lived in the villa.

“We’ve found a whole range of artifacts demonstrating just how luxurious a life that was led by the elite family that would have lived at the villa. It’s clearly not your run-of-the-mill domestic settlement. Without question, this is a hugely valuable site in terms of research, with incredible potential. It’s one of the best sites I have ever had the chance to work on,” Roberts said, adding his non-profit organization likely lacks the funding for a full-scale archaeological investigation.

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