A 1700 years old Roman villa complex in great condition was discovered in Kent, England last month with the help of Google Earth.
Using Google Earth technology, archaeologists could identify the site’s linear features based on crop markings around it. Getting on the site and digging up revealed a villa from the Roman era (3rd or 4th century CE) in great condition. The wall foundations of the main villa were dug up, along with a partially intact hypocaust. A hypocaust was a type of central heating system to keep the home warm, used in the Roman era.
The excavation was held by the Kent Archaeological Society, aided by the efforts of local volunteers. Richard Taylor (Director of the society) said: “There are many villas spread across Kent, but the fact there’s a hypocaust system remaining is rare. Operating a hypocaust was expensive, requiring a constant supply of fuels – firewood – and a workforce to operate it.”
The hypocaust indicates that the inhabitants were rich farmers, at the very least – since the hypocaust was a rarity found only among nobles in the Roman era. However, there is speculation that the inhabitants of the villa were the first in the region. The Coldrum Long Barrow, a nearby site, has evidence that suggests human inhabitants have at least since 3900 BCE. Archaeologists have concluded that the area in Kent was inhabited and farmed by humans for millennia, and the owners of the newly-discovered villa were just its latest inhabitants.
“This suggests a continuity of settlement in the area that goes back c.5000 years, which is not surprising given its idyllic location and agricultural potential,” Taylor continued. “The villa is like just one episode in a much greater time frame.”