A British man was renovating his barn when he unearthed the remnants of an ancient Roman villa, which could be the most important discovery of its kind in decades.
Luke Irwin, a luxury carpet designer from Wiltshire, was installing electric cables in the ground beneath his barn when he found a mosaic pattern.
He called the local council about the mystery, and 24 hours later archaeologists showed up as his house to examine the ruins.
An excavation revealed that the mosaic was part of an incredibly well preserved ancient Roman villa, described by heritage site Historic England as a discovery “unparalleled in recent years,” the Independent reports.
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The villa, originally a three story building constructed between 175 and 220 AD, is thought to be one of the largest Roman structures ever found in England.
Expensive trinkets such as jewelry, coins, and the bones of wild animals were also found on the site, as well as hundreds of oyster shells.
The evidence suggests that a person of extremly high rank had once lived there, perhaps the Roman emperor.
The Roman Empire had conquered the southern half of England by the start of the 2nd century AD.
“We’ve found a whole range of artifacts demonstrating just how luxurious a life that was led by the elite family that would have lived at the villa,” said David Roberts, an archaeologist from Historic England. “The site has not been touched since its collapse 1,400 years ago and so it’s of extreme importance.”
Among the ruins was the stone coffin of a Roman child, which had been used, unwittingly, as a flower bed.
Irwin said that he’s flabbergasted by the experience.
“I have always been fascinated by history ever since I went to Pompeii as a child,” Irwin said. “But to find it 20 yards from your own front door—and then the 20 billion to one shot that you design luxury rugs for the Roman aristocrats of today. It’s mind blowing.”