A man was walking around his father’s farm when he made a very important discovery in Rutland, England. Jim Irvine, who is the son of farmer Brian Naylor, found an ancient Roman mosaic underneath the soil which then led to the discovery of a Roman villa complex.
In an interview with the i newspaper, Mr. Irvine explained how he made the discovery, “I noticed these bits of pottery, oyster shells and what I now know to be orange Roman roof tiles.” He then used Google Earth to get a better view of the land and he noticed a crop mark that had never been noticed before. At that point, he contacted a local museum, and then began digging on the property with his father. That’s when a few rusty red mosaic tiles were revealed.
“Because of the crop mark I knew there would be something to find. I was hoping for the top of a wall; I never expected in a million years to come across a mosaic, especially one as special as this,” he stated, adding, “I knew we had to proceed very carefully and after a couple of hours I realized it was time to call in the specialists.”
According to a statement regarding the discovery, excavations were conducted by an archaeological team at Leicestershire County Council, as well as students and staff members from the University of Leicester's School of Archaeology and Ancient History, and Historic England which is part of the British government sponsored by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
The artifacts were initially discovered by Mr. Irvine during the summer of 2020 and for the past year, the research team has found the rest of the mosaic. The entire mosaic measured approximately 36 feet (11 meters) by 23 feet (7 meters). It shows a scene from Homer's "The Iliad" where the Greek warrior Achilles fought the Trojan prince Hector during the final stages of the Trojan War.
It was believed to have been used as a floor in an entertaining room or dining room. On top of the mosaic, human remains were found that were probably placed there after the inhabitants stopped living in the structure.
In addition to the mosaic, the researchers found numerous other structures that include a possible bath house and several barns. It is believed that the villa complex was inhabited sometime between the 3rd and 4th centuries and seems to be a “...very well-preserved example of a villa in its entirety,” as described by John Thomas who is the deputy director of University of Leicester Archaeological Services and the project manager of the excavations.
Several photos of the mosaic can be viewed here.