A Simple Renovation Turns Into a Huge Archaeological Find

Luke irwin
Luke Irwin Rugs

One man, Luke Irwin, thought it was time to install electricity into a barn on his property and, as you would, expected it to be a standard job that would go off without a bang (no pun intended). But from the minute ground was broken on the renovation project it became apparent that something wasn’t quite right.

Luke lives in the village of Tisbury, England with his family in what is a pretty much stereotypical British village, his property was already a bit out of the ordinary compared to those surrounding, but no one was ready for quite how different it was.

Country House
Luke Irwin Rugs

Workers who were at the property installing the lights in the barn quickly discovered mosaic tiling beneath the dirt. They let Luke know, to his utter surprise and delight, that they had found abeautiful creation under part of his home.

He had always been conscious of the medieval history of his home but, after finding this, was now aware that this mosaic came long before medieval times and got on the phone to Wilshire County archaeological department.

First find of Roman Mosaic
First find of Roman Mosaic

They clearly heard something of interest as they were down at the property ready to inspect the mosaic in under 20 minutes!

“It’s a million-to-one chance of just finding a mosaic by chance,” archaeologist Dr. Dave Roberts said. “It simply doesn’t happen.”

What was fast becoming clear was that this mosaic that had been hidden away under the topsoil for a very long time, was ancient-roman.

Mosaic Tiles
Luke Irwin Rugs

The archaeologists thought they were onto something a lot bigger though…

Roman Mosaic
Luke Irwin Rugs

The mosaic was actually what would have been beneath the entrance gate to a Roman villa! The archaeologists quickly set up a number of dig sites, and essentially camp, on the property to see what other remains of ‘Deverill Villa’ they could come across.

No one quite expected the things they would come across.

House with Archaeology digs
Luke Irwin Rugs

First was a wall near the mosaic, which only confirmed the thought that it was part of an entrance gate to a larger villa. After this came a whole host of other archaeological artefacts from coins and bones to oyster shells, which was one of the most surprising as they were quite far from the coast.

Archeological finds
Luke Irwin Rugs

The oyster shells showed the wealth that would have been in the property as these were a hot commodity at the time and very expensive to get hold of.

Oyster Shell
Luke Irwin Rugs

The archaeological finds don’t end here though…

What was being used as a simple flowerbed in Luke’s back garden actually had a much darker usage in the time of the villa!

He was burying his plant bulbs in the very thing a Roman child would have been buried in, yep a coffin, and it had been sat in the back yard this entire time!

Roman Childs Coffin
Luke Irwin Rugs

It’s a shame that the Wiltshire County archaeological society didn’t have enough cash to carry on the excavation as long and as extensively as they were hoping to, so there is still a lot to be uncovered.

Luke, being a designer however, saw the true beauty of the mosaic for what it was and set off designing a pattern and then a rug based around the tiles that he saw!

Roman Childs Coffin
Luke Irwin Rugs

We here at bySTORED think it’s mad how a simple renovation can unearth a whole world of history about this man’s home. Who knows, if they ever do manage to raise enough money to finish it off, this could get even more interesting!

Starting a renovation job of your own? Who knows what could be hiding beneath your property…

Need help with getting started on finding your own archaeological masterpiece in a renovation? Check out our handy guides here: bySTORED guides.

Craig Head of Digital at STORED.

Author: Craig

bySTORED's twenty-something content editor keeping you up to date on all the goings on around our hometown of London and all things #stressfreestorage

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