Lullingstone Roman Villa was discovered in 1939, although there has been knowledge of Roman occupation since the turn of the 18th century. A tessellated pavement was recorded and it was noted that Lullingstone Church (now demolished) contained much Roman brick and tile. Excavations commenced after the war in 1949, and in 1958 the site was taken into the guardianship of the 'Ministry of Works and Ancient Monuments'. Once excavated Lullingstone Roman Villa was preserved by the erection of a protective building, and was opened to the public in 1963.
Lullingstone Roman Villa is believed to have been constructed in AD75, originally using timber and daub, being reconstructed of stone in the 2nd century. As is often the case with buildings that survive several centuries, Lullingstone Roman Villa underwent many improvements during its lifetime. The site uncovered many treasures during the excavations: these included Christian wall paintings, found on parts of the cellar walls, and many fragments of wall plaster which have subsequently been painstakingly reconstructed to show many of the murals that once adorned the now collapsed walls.
The central spectacle, however, is the Mosaic floor in the dining room which has two main sections. In the apse, there is a scene depicting the 'Rape of Europa by Jupiter', and in the main area another shows 'Bellerophon riding Pegasus killing the Chimaera', a fire breathing lion-like monster. In the corners of the main panel there are three heads in circles (there used to be four) depicting the faces of the four seasons.
Between the two main sections are numerous geometric designs, including several Swastikas. The main complex contained some 26 rooms, and excavations have shown a further four rooms away from the main complex. These are believed to be a semi circular shrine, a Mausoleum, a kitchen and a granary. Lullingstone Roman Villa is believed to have been largely destroyed by fire early in the 5th century and no further signs of occupation have been found after AD420. This is some ten years after the Roman occupation of Britain had ceased.
There are known to have been several other Roman villas in the area of the Darenth river valley, although to our knowledge none are open to the public. One situated actually in Darenth is believed to have been one of the biggest and wealthiest to have been found in Britain. It was excavated in the 19th century and we are currently researching information on this site.
For those not local to the area, Lullingstone Roman Villa is not the easiest site to find but it is very close to the Motorway network at Swanley in Kent, and is certainly well worth the visit.