Spotlight on Lullingstone Roman Villa
Built in about AD 100, the villa at Lullingstone was a luxurious family home with all the hallmarks of Roman wealth and prosperity. Now situated under a protective roof, with coloured lighting filling the former rooms and cellars, these atmospheric remains offer an insight into life at the height of empire in Roman Britain.
Why we love Lullingstone
"Lullingstone is unique because it's a family home. You can spend an afternoon with your ancestors, and see how they would have lived. Most Roman sites that you can visit are military sites, but this is about people just getting on with their everyday lives. It's where they did most of their living and working and raising their kids. It's not just about the military machine. Real people lived here."
"Personally I love the water nymphs or goddesses, they're beautiful. The villa was built around the spring that's in the cult room, and that spring is why the villa was here. I love the fact that the symbolism itself continues through our art history today."
Simon Price Johnson, Historic Property Steward at Lullingstone Roman VillaPlan your Visit
Take a closer look: Roman Bone Dice
Among the many objects on display at Lullingstone are these two 4th-century dice, made from animal bone. They were used to play board and dice games, a popular pastime in wealthier households. Although they were found separately, the dice are matching in design and may have been part of a set. One was found on top of the mosaic depicting the Greek hero Bellerophon.
Three unusual things to look out for
- Roman shoe: Iron studs remaining from a nailed leather shoe, which has since disintegrated. The studs are iron nails which provided grip, much like a modern football boot.
- Stashed ingot: One of four metal ingots found under the floor at Lullingstone. The ingots – containing a combination of copper, lead and other valuable metals and weighing 15kg – were intentionally buried for safe keeping.
- Dining room mosaic: The spectacular mosaic floor, depicting the abduction of Europa by Jupiter in the guise of a bull, is a central feature of the building, placed to impress visitors.
Did you know?
The two busts seen on the perimeter walkway as you enter are thought to represent Pertinax – a former owner of the villa – and his father. Pertinax was a governor of Britain, and later a Roman emperor. Lullingstone would have been his country retreat for short stays in between time on the continent.Country Estates in Roman Britain
FILM AND LIGHT SHOW
Every 10-15 minutes, a film on the central screen presents a rich timeline of Lullingstone's amazing story. See the building's growth through the years with 3D reconstruction graphics, while a specially commissioned light show brings the rooms to life in time with the images. This short film is a great way to get a sense of the villa's varied past, and is best viewed from the upper deck of the viewing gallery.
Lullingstone is home to a great number of fascinating Roman objects, found during excavations. Many of these help to tell the story of the villa not only as an important imperial outpost, but as a family home where ordinary people lived and worked.
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