Chedworth, Roman Villa

On May 23, 2019

Year 4 Visit to Chedworth, Roman Villa

On a beautiful sunny Thursday May 23rd, Yr 4 visited the remains of a Roman Villa at Chedworth. It was built in the style of a traditional Roman villa using stone and lime plaster, with two courtyards.  The first courtyard would have been used as a market for locals to come and trade.   The next courtyard, directly outside the stone bath building would only be used by important people and family members.

Our first workshop was a tour around the site with Alan our guide, who was more like a storyteller and kept the children interested by using their imaginations to conjure up a world that existed about 2000 years ago.

First stop was a model of the villa, then we saw the natural spring that runs down from the limestone hills and has flowed consistently for the last few thousand years, sustaining plant and animal life.

Next we visited the bath house where there was a heating system called the hypocaust.  The hypocaust system would have been powered by two slaves, who put wood into the furnace causing the hot air to flow through the pipes under the mosaic floors and heating up water for the bath.

The beautiful mosaics adorn the floors of the bathhouses, dining room and corridors and are lovingly looked after by the archaeological team.  There were huge frescoes made of small stone cubes called tesserae.  One of them is the longest mosaic ever found in Britain!  Another depicted Bacchus, the Roman god of wine with a border of Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter.

After lunch, the children did a workshop where they dressed up as Roman slaves and made some herb medicine using a pestle and mortar.  The slaves the Romans owned had slave tags, which said in Latin ‘I am a slave, Hold me’, so the children wore these tags around their neck, while they worked hard grinding up their herbs.   In the past, the only way to break off the tag was by a blacksmith with a hammer, but the workshop leader seemed more than happy to release the children herself!

The day finished with a trip to the shop, a run round on the lawn and an unfortunate meeting with one of the legacies of our Roman invaders – the stinging nettle.  When I asked the children whether they had learnt anything today, the most repeated response was, “Yes, I’ve learnt to look out for nettles before I roll on the grass?”  As I’ve long suspected, nature is our best teacher.