The rich Roman villa found in England with tiny axes and "curse tablets"

Beyond the notable amounts of plaster painted with floral motifs (common in Roman villas), the mosaic tiles, the complex brick floor and hundreds of coins, rings and brooches, archaeologists from the Red River Archeology Group have just completed a Intriguing find in a newly discovered complex of Roman-era houses in Oxfordshire, England.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
31 March 2024 Sunday 16:22
8 Reads
The rich Roman villa found in England with tiny axes and "curse tablets"

Beyond the notable amounts of plaster painted with floral motifs (common in Roman villas), the mosaic tiles, the complex brick floor and hundreds of coins, rings and brooches, archaeologists from the Red River Archeology Group have just completed a Intriguing find in a newly discovered complex of Roman-era houses in Oxfordshire, England.

The researchers were studying the land where the Barratt company

The Brookside Meadows site lies in the middle of a landscape that has been inhabited since the Bronze Age. The complex of Roman villas, full of artifacts from 2,000 years ago, includes an imposing monumental hall with internal colonnades.

Among the bright red ware so common in the Terra sigillata style, archaeologists made an intriguing discovery: an enigmatic set of tightly coiled lead scrolls that, although “blank” when unrolled (pending further analysis) , recall the Roman "cursing tablets."

A curse tablet was a common means in the Greco-Roman world used to curse and where people asked one or more gods to harm other individuals, often as revenge. The texts were written on thin sheets of lead that were then rolled, folded or nailed.

Red River researchers have also found miniature votive axes, suggesting that somewhere on the estate was used as a ritual or pilgrimage site. “There are certain parallels with Roman temples in Britain such as those at Uley, Lydney and Farley Heath,” the experts say in a statement.

Objects discovered at Uley included, for example, mini weapons believed to have been given to martial gods such as Mercury. The date range of the copper alloy coin offerings made at Farley Heath between the late 3rd and late 4th centuries also appears to coincide with the village of Grove.

The earliest halled buildings at this Oxfordshire site appear to date from the late 1st century AD. C., although most were built in the 2nd century, before losing popularity in the 4th century. After construction, these structures could become a villa, form part of a larger complex, or even replace the existing villa.

To date, four enormous column or post bases have been discovered which could form part of an internal colonnade of a monumental building of up to 500 square metres, making it one of the largest examples of its type in Britain.

This building is immediately adjacent to an older, high-status domestic structure with a central space and wings of rooms accessed by a corridor.

The best evidence that activity at this site extended into the late 4th or early 5th century is a horse-head belt buckle dating to 350-450 AD. This object is notable because it indicates that the elites wished to be associated with the prestige of the late Roman army and also with some of the earliest Anglo-Saxon burials.

“The site is much more complex than a normal rural site and was clearly an important center of activity for a long time, from the Bronze Age to the later Roman period,” says Francesca Giarelli, an archaeologist with the Red River Archeology Group.