A previously unknown Roman villa containing a rare mosaic that depicts scenes from Homer's Iliad was discovered in a field in Rutland during lockdown last year. After the landowner's son noticed some unusual pottery on the ground he found an online satellite photograph showing crop marks that indicated a long-lost range of buildings and contacted the University of Leicester. John Thomas, deputy director of the university’s archaeological services and project manager on the excavations described the find as "... the most exciting Roman mosaic discovery in the UK in the last century", whilst Historic England described it as "one of the most remarkable and significant [mosaics] ever found in Britain". The mosaic is in panels, depicting Achilles’ battle with Hector during the Trojan War. It is thought to be unique in Britain as the only mosaic showing scenes from the Iliad and is unusual in portraying Achilles and Hector fighting in their chariots, rather than on foot as in some European mosaics. It measures 11 metres by 7 metres and forms the floor of what was thought to be a dining or entertaining area of the villa. The archaeological survey and dig revealed that the villa is surrounded by barns, circular structures and possibly a bath house. The villa complex is thought to date from the late Roman period (3rd or 4th Century AD) and have been occupied by a wealthy family with a knowledge of classical literature. Further excavations are planned for 2022. The site is not accessible to the public but Historic England said that discussions are ongoing with Rutland County Council to set up an off-site display of the villa complex and its finds.
Good to hear some positive news on the heritage front that plans for the creation of a new History Centre for Staffordshire have been approved. With the award of nearly £4 million earlier in the year by the National Heritage Lottery Fund, the proposed centre will house the collections of Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Archive Service, the County Museum and the William Salt Library. A glazed link will be created between the Georgian building that houses the library and the record office, which will form a new entrance and exhibition space. Reading areas, research labs and extra storage that will accommodate up to a further 55 years of additions to the collections are part of the overall £7.1 million plans.
Originally installed in the moat at The Tower of London in 2014 as part of a national cultural programme to commemorate the centenary of the First World War, ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’, the amazing display of handcrafted ceramic poppies was conceived by the artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper. Massive crowds were drawn to the display of 800,000 poppies that represented the lost British and Commonwealth soldiers who fought in the campaign. A smaller section of the installation, entitled ‘Poppies: Wave and Weeping Window’, then travelled to 19 sites across Britain between 2014 and 2018. Many of the poppies have been re-imagined into a new installation that can be seen at the Imperial War Museum (IWM)North from today, which will be their new permanent home.
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