During May half term we celebrated the completion of our Roman Villa renovations as the final tesserae of our mosaic was laid, the final lick of paint applied to the walls, and furniture and flowers made the building into a home.
The villa, based on excavations from Sparsholt near Winchester, is now displayed in a way we feel represents how those who lived here almost 2000 years ago may have experienced the villa. The mosaic is a copy of the design originally in the villa, the walls have been painted based on evidence from the plaster found during excavations and we have furnished the space according to current research and experiments about use of domestic space. Of course, despite our renovations being finished for now, this is just the beginning of a new phase of life for the villa and there is still more we would like to do! We are now able to test out, adapt and reflect changing theories about life in a Roman villa… things never stand still for very long at Butser!
Here are some photos of the villa taken last week and of our opening celebrations to mark the occasion. Many thanks to everyone who has worked so hard to make the villa renovations a success!
Butser Wildlife Watch May 2019
We’ve been keeping track of the wonderful wildlife we see here at Butser as the seasons change. Here is our May update written by team member Victoria Melluish on what we’ve witnessed this month! Continue reading
We’ve been keeping track of the wonderful wildlife we see here at Butser as the seasons change. Here is our April update written by team member Victoria Melluish on what we’ve witnessed this month!
The Butser Ancient Farm Roman Villa mosaic project has reached a significant milestone – the final tessera of the geometric border has been laid!
Since we resumed work this month the team has made enormous progress, laying almost as much of the floor area in two weeks as we did in two months last year. In part that’s because our mosaicists are now experts in their professions, and partly because a lot of our work over the past week or two has been in the border – with much larger tesserae (tiles) and no tricky pattern to lay. But the other reason things have speeded up is that we had extra help from many, many of our visitors over the Easter break. People of all ages were down on their hands and knees helping us get the floor finished. The help was much appreciated and it seems like everyone had an absolute ball doing it – a real win-win!
As well as being a really nice, authentic floor covering for our villa, the mosaic was a piece of experimental archaeology. It has provided us with some interesting insights into the process of mosaic making, using quite authentic techniques. In keeping with that authentic experimental approach, we have also included the initials of each one of our mosaicists in the border of the design. Now, we can’t say for certain that any Roman-British mosaicist did this, but there are lots of ‘mistakes’ in mosaics around the country, which look rather obvious, even deliberate. Some people think that these are sort of ‘coded’ messages by the makers to say ‘I did this’. In keeping with this secretive approach, we have hidden the initials in plain sight – with subtle shifts of pattern which are not easy to spot. Once we have opened the mosaic fully for public view you might enjoy a game of spot the mosaicist!
We still have a little more to finish off but it is all very simple to lay from here forward, so we’re hoping to have it all done by the end of May. That means we will have a fully redecorated triclinium, ready to welcome the Emperor, and all of our visitors!
We’ve been keeping track of the wonderful wildlife we see here at Butser as the seasons change. Here is the first of our updates written by team member Victoria Melluish on what we’ve witnessed this spring! Continue reading