Archaeologists in England have discovered a “fantastic” Roman mosaic on land earmarked for a supermarket, suggesting a villa once occupied the site.
A team of experts from Oxford Archaeology were asked to survey the plot of land in the town of Olney, near Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire, ahead of work to construct an Aldi store on the site.
Once they got digging, they unearthed the colored tiles of a mosaic which they now believe was part of a Roman villa, with a bath house nearby.
Announcing the “pretty exciting find” on social media, Oxford Archaeology tweeted: “There is a previously known Roman settlement at Olney #buckinghamshire so when work started, we knew there was the possibility to find some pretty cool structures and finds but … a mosaic! Wow!”
The mosaic still displays “vibrant colours and intricate decorative patterns,” according to a press release from Oxford Archaeology.
“The uncovered sections, remarkably vibrant, show a blue and cream decoration on the outer border and a red, white, and blue pattern with typical Roman decorative elements in the infill,” the release said.
The team were enlisted by developer Angle Property because evidence of a Roman settlement had previously been found in this part of the town.
Close to the mosaic, the archaeologists unearthed several stone structures which they believe might have been cisterns for water collection and part of a bath house.
John Boothroyd, senior project manager at Oxford Archaeology, said: “Due to the site location we anticipated some notable Roman remains, but the discovery of this fantastic mosaic far exceeded those expectations.”
Anthony Williamson, executive director and part owner of Angle Property, said the find has “taken us all by surprise.”
He added: “The Roman mosaic adds to our knowledge and understanding of our history and it will be fully recorded and the information published in due course.”
Such incredible Roman finds are not unheard of in Britain.
Last year, a large area of a well-preserved Roman mosaic was discovered in London near the Shard, the capital’s tallest building. The site, which was excavated by archaeologists, previously served as a car park.
The year before, a Roman mosaic was discovered on a British farm. It was the first of its kind found in the UK to depict the Greek hero Achilles’ battle with Hector during the Trojan War.