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.
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