ARCHAEOLOGISTS are spending two weeks at Chedworth Roman Villa to explore for the first time in decades what lies beneath parts of the ancient dwelling.

From Monday (August 15), the team of National Trust archaeologists will be digging in the northern wing of the villa around one of the bath houses and near the spring, or Nymphaeum.

The work hopes to build on discoveries of mosaics in the last three years, including some tantalising pieces of what is thought to be a wall mosaic made of small thin tiles.

The team will also dig deeper into an area where pieces of painted plaster appear to have lain undisturbed for 1600 years.

The dig is part of a five year programme to investigate the north range of the villa and see what condition the still-buried archaeology is in.

The work will help the Trust understand what remains of the villa still survive, what condition they are in and help to guide a decision on how best to protect them.

Some of this year’s trenches will be directly following on from work done last year.

Martin Papworth, the National Trust’s South West archaeologist, is leading this year’s dig.

He said: “One of our trenches last year didn’t appear to get to the bottom levels so we will be opening that up again and extending it to fully understand what is there. “We found the area full of pieces of painted plaster and pieces of mosaic which we think might be a rare wall mosaic.

“The tiles are much smaller and thinner than those used on floors and we hope to find more of that.

“By the Nymphaeum we want to check an earlier floor level and a lower doorway from an earlier phase of building at Chedworth.

“As well as digging close to the spring fed Nymphaeum, the team will be looking at an area in front of the northern bath house.

“Our team will be supported by a number of volunteers and students but anybody who visits Chedworth during the dig is welcome to stop by and watch what is happening and see any new discoveries for themselves as the ground reveals it secrets.”

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