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Atworth Roman Villa

near Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire

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Atworth villa
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A large Roman villa was discovered by ploughing in the 1930s in the north of Atworth parish, close to the former Londinium-Aquae Sulis Roman road. Some excavations were carried out in 1937 and in 1938, uncovering the east wing and part of the main house on the northern side of a wide courtyard. More excavations took place in the years 1970 to 1975, which uncovered more of the main buildings and another building to the southwest.

Finds from both excavations went to the Wiltshire Museum in Devizes, where some, including small columns, are on display in the Roman Gallery.

The photographs here were taken in 1938 by Richard Christopher, the chemist whose shop is now displayed in Bradford on Avon Museum.

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Atworth villa
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A view of the eastern bathhouse, which had substantial walls and rounded apses. The square tiles are arranged as pilae, stacked in piles to support the floor of the room above, while allowing hot air from a furnace on one side to circulate and warm the baths. This arrangement for underfloor heating was called a hypocaustum, from Greek “under burning”. Frequently the hot air was carried up through the walls too, in terracotta tubes (tubelli) instead of a chimney. The baths would have had barrel-vault ceilings and half-domes over the apses and all would have been plastered and painted in a rich colour scheme.

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Atworth villa
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A flight of steps made of well-cut limestone led from the main building to the bathhouse

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