A simple home renovation unveiled one of the largest Roman Villas in the United Kingdom.
The discovery was made by homeowner Luke Irwin, who initially found the remains of what looked like a Roman Mosaic while laying an electricity cable underground. He lives near the village of Tisbury, Wiltshire, England.
"The electricians originally suggested stringing up an overhead cable from our house to supply the power for the barn, but I insisted it had to be an underground cable," Irwin told the Guardian. When the pieces of mosaic were found, Irwin said he knew just what that meant.
"No one since the Romans has laid mosaics as house floors in Britain," he said. "Fortunately we were able to stop the workmen just before they began to wield pickaxes to break up the mosaic layer."
When archaeologists arrived and began excavating the site, they discovered that the mosaic was part of a large property similar to the Roman villa at Chedworth.
According to Historic England, the newly-discovered grand villa was likely constructed between 175 to 220 AD.
"This site has not been touched since its collapse 1,400 years ago and, as such, is of enormous importance,” Dr. David Roberts, archaeologist for Historic England, said. "Without question, this is a hugely valuable site in terms of research, with incredible potential.
"The discovery of such an elaborate and extraordinarily well-preserved villa, undamaged by agriculture for over 1500 years, is unparalleled in recent years. Overall, the excellent preservation, large scale and complexity of this site present a unique opportunity to understand Roman and post-Roman Britain."
Roberts said it would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to fully excavate the site, which the organization is unable to afford.
"We would very much like to go back and carry out more digs to further our understanding of the site," he told the Telegraph. "But it’s a question of raising the money and taking our time, because as with all archaeological work there is the risk of destroying the very thing you seek to uncover."
Roberts said that the remains of the villa could provide more insight into the Roman era of England’s history. For Irwin, the significance of the discovery was something he felt strongly.
"Some of the oyster shells we have found have not been touched by another human for more than 1,500 years and now we have uncovered them lying around our house," he told the Guardian. "It is a very powerful feeling."