Lullingstone is a remarkable Roman Villa situated in Kent, England. During the past seventy years, archaeologists have been working hard to unveil all of its fascinating features and secrets, which is probably why it is currently one of the most popular Roman villas in England (Narain, 2010).Lullingstone was built after the Roman Empire conquered Britain during the 4th century A.D. and was occupied for the entire duration of the Roman occupation (Watson, 1999). As reported by the English Heritage (2015a), the villa dates back to 100 A.D. and was designed specifically to meet its wealthy owners’ high expectations and expensive taste.
The villa was expanded and improved several times in order to accommodate many important occupants – such as wealthy Roman citizens or British citizens who had embraced the Roman ways -, until a significant part of it was destroyed by fire in the 5th century (The Heritage Trail, 2015). According to experts, the villa was initially constructed using daub and timber but was then renovated using stone in the 2nd century A.D. (The Heritage Trail, 2015). Over the decades, archaeologists have found numerous interesting works of art and items, including Christian paintings, beautiful murals, intricate mosaics and much more (The Heritage Trail, 2015).
As a Roman villa that probably hosted both wealthy Romans and Britons, Lullingstone symbolizes the cultural changes that followed the Roman conquest of England. As a piece of Rome in a foreign land that was slowly adapting to its conquerors’ customs and traditions, Lullingstone carries remarkable historical significance. Moreover, since many Christian items have emerged from the archaeological site of the villa, Lullingstone encourages visitors to wonder what its occupants believed in and what their background was (English Heritage, 2015b).
The villa has provided us with precious evidence related to Britain’s transformation into a Christian nation, to the extent that it has been defined as a house-church (The English Heritage, 2015b). Its mosaics are very significant as they portray a variety of Roman and ancient Greek mythological tales – such as stories extracted from Virgil’s Aeneid and the killing of the Chimera (The English Heritage, 2015b). The Europa mosaic is probably the most distinctive and interesting piece that has been found in the villa, as it has raised questions about its symbolic role. Specifically, it has been argued that it may conceal the villa owner’s name or even some subtle references to Jesus and Christianity (The English Heritage, 2015b).
The reason why I have decided to focus on this particular villa is because of its mysterious nature. After years of research and speculation, in 2010 archaeologists finally came to the conclusion that Lullingstone villa belonged to Publius Helvius Pertinax, who served as Governor of Britain first and then became Emperor (Narain, 2010). Collecting information about Lullingstone has enabled me to appreciate the unique treasures that the Roman Empire has left across Britain. Even though people tend to focus on the beautiful villas that the Romans have built in Latium (Italy), more emphasis should be placed on what has been found in previously Germanic countries.
- English Heritage (2015a). Lullingstone Roman Villa. Retrieved from http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/lullingstone-roman-villa/
- English Heritage (2015b). Significance of Lullingstone Roman Villa. Retrieved from http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/lullingstone-roman-villa/history/significance/
- Narain, J. (2010). British villa fit for an emperor: Experts finally solve puzzle of Roman ruins at Lullingstone. Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1304086/Lullingstone-Roman-Villa-treasures-reveal-home-future-Emperor.html#ixzz3tGLD8gnd
- The Heritage Trail (2015). Lullingstone Roman Villa, Kent. Retrieved from http://www.theheritagetrail.co.uk/roman%20britain/lullingstone.htm
- Watson, I. (1999). Lullingstone Roman Villa. Swindon, UK: English Heritage