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The Roman Villa at

St Laurence School, Budbury

Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire

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Budbury Roman Villa

The central area of the eastern villa building, with threshold of the main entrance and mosaic floors beyond

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It had long been suspected that there was significant Roman building in the Budbury area, on the plateau just north of the centre of Bradford because of a concentration of Roman finds in the area. An excavation in 1976, when the school playing field was being levelled, found a bath house just on the field’s perimeter, so a major villa house had to be very nearby.

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aerial view of Budbury Roman villa

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The dry summer of 1999 showed the extent of the buildings as parch marks in the playing field’s grass-  grass dries out and yellows where the soil is thin, above masonry walls. The straight mark across the picture is a trench for a drain, but nobody noticed what it passed through when it was dug. On the right is the Wiltshire Music Centre; again, despite knowing the villa was likely to be nearby, no-one seems to have been looking out when it was built in 1998. Luckily building work at the school, in Bear Close to the south and the Old Batch to the north had mostly missed

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Budbury Roman villa excavation, with Mark Corney

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It wasn’t until 2002 that excavation was carried out by archaeologists from Bristol and Cardiff Universities, led by Mark Corney. What they found in two summers of digging was the large house with mosaic-floored reception rooms and subsidiary buildings around a courtyard and, surprisingly, another villa next door, of nearly the same plan.