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I dug up my back garden and found a Roman villa; Irishman uncovers amazing ancient artefacts while laying electric cables on his farm.

Byline: EMILY BEAMENT and JOHN PATRICK KIERANS

AN Irishman has discovered an "elaborate" Roman villa buried in his back garden.

Luke Irwin was laying electric cables in his garden when he uncovered an untouched mosaic.

As he explored further an ancient Roman villa, described by experts as "extraordinarily well-preserved", was found underneath.

The remains were discovered during an eight-day dig at Mr Irwin's home in Warminster.

Historic England have described the find as "unparalleled in recent years". Some of the artefacts uncovered include hundreds of oyster shells, pottery, coins, brooches and the bones of animals including a suckling pig and other wild animals which are expected to have been hunted.

Experts also identified a Roman child's coffin which had been holding geraniums by Mr Irwin's kitchen.

The discovery is thought to be the largest of its kind in the UK.

The villa - which is being compared to the famous Roman home at Chedworth, Gloucestershire, in size and wealth - was built between 175AD and 220AD and was repeatedly remodelled up to the mid 4th century AD.

Mr Irwin said: "I was overwhelmed by the realisation that someone's lived on this site for 2,000 years.

"You look out at an empty field from your front door, and yet 1,500 years ago there was the biggest house, possibly, in all of Britain."

Historic England archaeologist Dr David Roberts said the find was very significant for a number of reasons.

He added: "This site has not been touched since its collapse 1,400 years ago and, as such, is of enormous importance.

"Without question, this is a hugely valuable site in terms of research, with incredible potential.

"The discovery of such an elaborate and extraordinarily wellpreserved villa, undamaged by agriculture for over 1,500 years, is unparalleled in recent years."

Asked how highly the site rated in terms of the digs he had seen in his career, Dr Roberts said: "Because I'm a Roman archaeologist, it rates very highly indeed.

"It's one of the best sites I have ever had the chance to work on."

He added there were still questions to be answered after the "small" excavation to see how well preserved the site was and its dates - including exactly how big the villa is - how the site relates to the Roman road and how it should be preserved.

news@irishmirror.ie

CAPTION(S):

SHOCK DISCOVERY Luke Irwin

field of dreams Archaeologists dig around site in Warminster

Currency used 2,000 years ago

Flowers growing on child's burial site

Well-preserved tiles MOSAIC

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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Apr 18, 2016
Words:421
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