The villa was founded about 120 AD, and began as three separate and modest groups of buildings. During this earliest phase (Phase I) the villa consisted of separate buildings to the west and south with a detached bath house to the north. In the early 3rd century (Phase II) the west and south wings were rebuilt following a fire, and the north bath-suite was enlarged with extra rooms added to its eastern side. In the early 4th century (Phase III), the villa was transformed into an elite dwelling enclosing the courtyard. The existing wings were linked by a covered portico, and an inner garden and outer courtyard were created. The dining-room (triclinium) received its mosaics and the northern half of the west wing was converted to become a second set of baths. Shortly afterwards (Phase IIIA) the baths in the north wing were rebuilt and changed to dry-heat (laconicum) baths, which meant that the villa had both damp-heat and dry-heat bathing suites. The floors of at least eleven rooms were decorated with fine mosaics. In the late 4th century (Phase IV) the north wing was extended with the addition of a new dining-room. The villa was probably destroyed in the 5th century.
The spring-fed pool in the northwest corner of the villa complex was the location of the apsidal shrine to the water-nymphs (nymphaeum). The curved rear wall is 2 metres high and is the original Roman masonry. A Christian chi-rho monogram was discovered scratched on the rim of the pool. Foundations of a Romano-British temple have been excavated about 800 metres south-east of the villa buildings. The remains comprise the southwest and southeast corners of a rectangular building, measuring 16.5m by 16.0m. Altars preserved in the villa museum probably came from the temple as did coins, glass tesserae and a stone carven niche. There was, however, another Roman building in Chedworth Woods about 150 metres northwest of the villa which was destroyed in the construction of the railway around 1869. Finds included coins, hexagonal tiles, fragments of pillars, part of a shell-headed niche and glass tesserae. The stone relief of a "hunter god" with hare, dog and stag, sometimes ascribed to the southeast temple, may have come from this site. Another carved figure was discovered bearing a fragmentary inscription which it is believed may refer to the healing god Mars Lenus, a deity of the Treveri tribe in Gaul.
The villa was accidentally discovered in 1864 by a gamekeeper [Thomas Margetts] digging for a ferret, and finding fragments of paving and pottery. The site was subsequently excavated over a two-year period by James Farrer, an antiquarian and the Member of Parliament for South Durham. The owner of the land was the Earl of Eldon, and it was he who financed the excavations, roofing for the mosaics, and the building of the mock-Tudor lodge to house the artifacts. The pavement mosaics in several rooms exhibit the typical geometric meander patterns found in other Roman villas throughout England. The dining room floor contains one of the most elaborate geometric designs found in the villa. Although in good condition, there are substantial portions of it missing. However, a simple mathematical algorithm has been discovered that is able to reconstruct the missing parts of the mosaic from what is still there. Thanks to ramps and lifts, the visitor reception, shop, café, and West Range (main mosaics, dining room and bathhouse) are all fully wheelchair accessible, regardless of the weather. However be aware that the rest of the site (including access to the museum) is mainly outdoors, and there are slopes, some steps, grass, uneven paths and undulating terrain. Access to these outdoor areas therefore may be more challenging following wet weather. Assistance dogs are welcome. Accessible toilets are available. One wheelchair to borrow on a first come first served basis
Location : Yanworth, near Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL54 3LJ
Transport: Cheltenham Spa (National Rail) then prebook taxi. Bus Routes : 854 (Cotswold AONB) has one service Weekdays.
Opening Times : Daily 10:00 to 17:00.
Tickets : Adults £9.05; Children £4.53
Tel: 01242 890256