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☰ History Trip to Bignor Roman Villa

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History Trip to Bignor Roman Villa

Posted on: 09 Mar 2015 by Weston Green School | Category: Key Stage 2, Year 4

Year 4 pupils have been studying Roman Britain in their History lessons this term so they had been eagerly looking forward to gaining some hands-on experience of what it would have been like living in Roman  times. Last Monday they enjoyed a very exciting day out at Bignor Roman Villa in West Sussex.  Dating back to the 3rd Century AD, Bignor Roman Villa was one of the largest in Britain. The Villa was rediscovered 200 years ago when a local farmer, George Tupper, uncovered the Roman fountain from the Villa’s original Summer Dining Room, after striking it with his plough. The site still remains in the Tupper family ownership to this day. Following this discovery, the site was excavated, uncovering some of the finest mosaics ever found in Great Britain. These and other objects found, including pottery, tools, cooking utensils and even human bones, are preserved in the Georgian buildings erected on the foundations of the original Roman buildings over 200 years ago to protect the site.

The visit helped Year 4 pupils gain a lively sense of the Roman way of life. On arrival at the villa they were taken on a very informative guided tour of the site. In the museum area they were able to see a model of how the original Villa, comprising 70 rooms in total, would have looked in the fourth century.  They had the chance to walk on real Roman floors laid nearly 2000 years ago and view the original mosaics. There was much evidence that a very wealthy Roman family lived there, such as the size of the baths, the elaborate design of mosaics, the piscine in the Summer Dining Room and the vast under floor heating system which the children learned was called a hypocaust. Many of the excavated artefacts on display and the detailed designs of the original mosaics which have been so well preserved helped the pupils appreciate the pride and craftsmanship of the Roman designers. They were amazed at how they had created beautiful pictures in stonework, depicting the Gods, Gladiators, Animals, Birds, Mythical Creatures, the Four Seasons, and many other designs. The surviving part of the geometric mosaic in the North corridor measures twenty four metres long, with the original stretching for 70 metres. It is thought to be the longest on display in Britain.

A visit to the Roman Bath, the remains of which are still to be found in the garden, revealed a beautiful mosaic of the head of Medusa with the snakes emerging from her head. The children heard how Medusa was a very important god in Roman times as the people believed that the snakes around her head helped ward off evil..

In the afternoon, pupils had the opportunity to engage in some hands on activities in the Roman workshop, including grinding grain with a Quern stone to make flour which they came to realise was not an easy task. They all learned how to spin wool and had fun designing their own mosaic patterns and writing in the Roman style on wax tablets with a stylus.

Visiting Bignor Roman Villa has enriched the pupils’ understanding of the way of life of a wealthy, extended Roman family who had settled in this area. They learned why the Romans had chosen to build their villa on this site with its fertile farming land and good access to water nearby. In addition, they discovered that the nearby Roman road, Stane Street, which was built in the first century to link London with Chichester, enabled the family to transport goods to and from these important locations.

As they continue their Roman Britain studies this term, Year 4 pupils will now be able to extend their research in more detail, building on the knowledge gained on this very worthwhile visit.

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