Chedworth is embarking on an exciting £3M project ‘to bring to life the ‘Golden Age’ of Roman Britain, setting new standards of participation, protection and presentation for archaeological sites.’ With the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund we have a programme of works to revitalise the Villa. Over the summer of 2010, our archaeologist uncovered a splendid display of mosaics that have never before been seen by the public. These have now been protected and 2011 will see a phase of building work, with a new conservation shelter built over the West Range. Chedworth will be open in 2011 but the mosaics will not be on display until 2012.
Background to the project
Chedworth Roman Villa is the second most visited domestic Roman site in the UK. With a wide variety of in-situ features, including the exceptional collection of 4th century mosaics, Chedworth is a site of international significance as a visitor attraction. The fragile remains faced an uncertain future, with the Victorian shelters failing to protect them against adverse environmental conditions. The visitor facilities also failed to meet modern expectations with no permanent catering facility, outdated interpretation and an array of temporary structures including a small ‘shed’ used for educational visits. All of these failings will be addressed in the project.
New conservation shelter
A new cover shelter will be built over the entire West Range to provide a stable and controlled conservation environment that will ensure that the archaeology can be preserved, whilst maintaining and improving the access. You will be able to move through the West Range on a suspended walkway that takes you through the entire wing of the West Range. It will enable you to get much closer to the mosaics, including the newly uncovered mosaics, and become immersed in the splendour of the villa. More mosaics will be revealed in 2012.
Centre for Victorian discovery
The museum will be transformed to tell the story of the original excavation and how the Victorians have shaped the site you see today. You will be able to learn about the personal experiences of those involved in the dig and the archaeological techniques of the period. You will be able to discover this for yourself by pulling out drawers to reveal real Roman items and look through microscopes at the remains.
Formal Learning at Chedworth breaking ground with new audiences
A new learning space will be created to provide a comfortable space for a class of 30 children. This will lift the restrictions imposed by the existing facilities and allow a wider more inclusive range of activities to take place. The roof structure of the Victorian shelters frames will be re-used for the learning space and provide continuity with the site’s more recent past. We have also appointed a Community Outreach Officer to break down barriers and make Chedworth more accessible for more people.
Protecting the north range
We are taking to steps to protect the remains in the North Range. Most notably we will use specially designed individual ‘socks’ over the pillae of the hypocaust system during the winter. We will also remove the confusing clutter of temporary structures along the North Range.
A vision for the landscape
The vision for the garden and landscape will be one that respects the spirit of the place as created by the Victorians, and that maintains the sense of a rural domestic idyll. An impression of the informal and open Victorian landscape will be re-established, without resorting to restoration. Overgrown vegetation will be cleared and views will once more be opened up, enabling you to understand the Roman setting of the villa.
If you would like to make a donation towards this exciting project, please visit http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/w-vh/w-visits/w-findaplace/w-chedworthromanvilla/w-chedworthromanvilla-appeal.htm