Situated in England’s rural Kent countryside stands an example of the changing face of Roman Britain. On the outskirts of the village of Eynsford, the Roman villa at Lullingstone is known for its mosaics and for vividly displaying the change from paganism to Christianity.
The villa was occupied from the 1st to the 4th Century. As it developed over the years, it came to incorporate a major granary and a family mausoleum. It might have looked something like this…
The bust suggests that it may have had some connection with eventual emperor Pertinax.
The site is beautifully presented, and it’s possible to walk round it on a raised platform, which gives an overview of the remains, including its bathhouse, underground heating and religious area.
From above, you can about make out the remains of the site’s magnificent mosaics – in the forefront, the rape of Europa is depicted, complete with a quote from the Aeneid. In the background, the myth of Bellerophon is the focus. The inhabitants were obviously highly literate and educated people, or at least wanted to show off their wealth and learning.
The site also contains an underground ‘cult hole’ and a small house church, suggesting that Christianity and paganism may have happily coexisted for a while in the area. Some of the most spectacular sites from that church are kept in the British Museum, including depictions of people at prayer.
This is a small site but there’s a lot to see, including grave goods from the mausoleum (including intact an intact skeleton) and some really intricate finds including jewellery and building materials and implements. All in all an interesting look at Britain’s Roman past.
Have you been to Lullingstone or another part of Roman Britain?