31 March, 2009

Lullingstone Roman Villa

Back now! Lots of updates to come, starting with Friday morning...after doing a quick run into Redhill to drop off two thirds of the contents of the spare room to a charity shop (to calls of "Wouldn't you have been better off doing a car boot sale" from the old dears out the back) and one third to the dump (to amazed looks from the dump workers at the bin bags full of jewel cases going into landfill), we threw the weekend bags into the back of the bug, plugged in the tomtom and headed off in the direction of Canterbury -
Lullingstone
- first stop, the lovely little village of Lullingstone, just outside Maidstone in Kent, more precisely, Lullingstone Villa, one of the best preserved examples in the country...After begrudgingly parting with £2.50 to park the car, entrance is by way of the gift shop, packed with Roman goods -
Lullingstone
Lullingstone
- we then parted with another £14 (to get into the building proper) -
Lullingstone
- and were immediately impressed at the scale of the structure, "Villa" is a bit of an understatement...the ruins were first discovered back in 1939 when a tree was blown down in a storm, revealing a portion of the central mosaic, it took ten years before the excavation proper got underway, and another ten years before the extent of the site was fully understood, at this stage a (leaky) temporary structure was erected to protect it, the building you see today (paid for by English Heritage) cost just shy of £2 million, but should keep everything they found nice and safe for a few years to come...and the finds were considerable -
Lullingstone
Lullingstone
- two incredible busts (these were reproductions, the real ones being in the British Museum in London) found in the underground pagan shrine -
Lullingstone
- (the lowest room) which had been dedicated to local water deities judging by the wall paintings-
Lullingstone
- all sorts of building materials including intact hypocaust bricks -
Lullingstone
Lullingstone
- no less than three lead coffins (two of which had already been plundered, one of which was intact -
Lullingstone
- complete with 24 year old (at time of death) resident -
Lullingstone
- buckles, jewelery, gaming pieces -
Lullingstone
- even a virtually intact padlock(!)...
Lullingstone
Next up were a few things to do, trying on Roman clothing (which was heavy and scratchy) -
Lullingstone
- learning to play Roman board games -
Lullingstone
- then we climbed up onto the upper level (which affords a much better view of the plan of the house) -
Lullingstone
- stopping to note the well (situated handily right next to the extensive bathing area - what is it with Romans and baths?) -
Lullingstone
- and admire the detailed mosaic floor -
Lullingstone
- depicting the abduction of the princess Europa by the god Jupiter (disguised as a bull, as you do)...
Lullingstone
- and then we had a short wait while all the lights around the site turned blue (to indicate that the video was about to start), and then watched the ten minute presentation, explaining how the site was constantly being upgraded and extended right up until the time of it's destruction (by fire - only the foundations were made from rock and concrete, the upper structure was all of wattle and daub) in the early 5th century...

I guess, in all, we were in the place for about 45 minutes, there was a lot to read and see, and the clothes to try on (etc.) but if you are planning a day out, this is really only going to fill a very small portion of it, there is a castle just up the road (about a ten minute walk) -
Lullingstone
Lullingstone
- but on the occasion of our visit, was closed (it actually just looked like a gate house castle anyway, the main building being much more like just a house)...so make Lullingstone "a morning" in your itinerary, at most...

1 comment:

Ys said...

sounds like a great place, if a little expensive. I love all that kind of stuff. And castles are my absolute favourites :)