Rockbourne Roman Villa
The new Forest and surrounding area have been populated since the beginning of time and is home to a number of ancient monuments many of them pre-dating documented history but the discovery of the Rockbourne Roman Villa was a stunning find and is testament to the way the Romans used to live. Rockbourne Roman Villa was discovered in 1942 by a local farmer when he unearthed some oyster shells and tile remnants as he was digging his ferret out of a rabbit warren, Rockbourne Roman Villa was one of the biggest archaeological finds in Hampshire and is a fascinating place to visit.
The main structure was an impressive large residence built on three sides of a large courtyard, which included within it luxurious Roman mosaics and bath suites. In addition, there were farm buildings and workshops. The villa was occupied until the 5th century AD.
Large scale excavations of Rockbourne Roman Villa started in 1956 and carried on until 1978, when they started to re-lay the mosaic floors. The workers uncovered coins which showed that the site was continuously occupied for over 350 years altogether, and that in its first days, it was simply a small rectangular house built over where there had once been an Iron Age timber roundhouse.
Visitors today can see two wonderful mosaic floors of the bath house, some surprisingly intact parts of the underfloor heating system and the outline of the villa’s forty rooms. Most of the remainder of the site is grassed over, with gravel paths marking the positions of walls and outlines of other buildings.
Rockbourne Roman Villa has a museum, with some fascinating artefacts uncovered in the excavations, including a fragment of a leather sandal and a perfect footprint left by a worker in a hobnailed boot! The Villa itself, along with the museum, provides visitors with a tantalizing glimpse of what life was like for the Romans who lived here 1600 years ago.
The Rockbourne Roman Villa is open daily from April 3rd until September 29th, 11am - 4pm Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursday and Sundays., with last admissions at 3.30pm. Visitors who are wheelchair users might want to note, though, that the paths are mainly gravel and grass, so might cause a few difficulties going around the site.
Rockbourne 2011 admission charge:
Standard Adult £3
Family Ticket £8
Children under 5 are free.
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