One of UK’s biggest Roman villas found to have underfloor heating
Cambridge University’s archaeological team recently uncovered a huge building in its entirety, including the surprisingly modern way it was heated.
The team has been working in the area for several years. During that time, it has already uncovered roads and numerous other Roman building at the site in Eddington, Cambridge, near the Madingley Road Park and Ride facility. The team knew that there would be a villa located somewhere within the area, but thought that the bus station may have already been built over the top of it.
Marcus Brittain, who is the site director, explained in a press interview how the important building was finally found. He said:
“We found all of these building materials during our trench work back in 2009, but we thought the villa must have been covered up by the Park & Ride.”
The 3rd or 4th-Century villa is as big as four football pitches, yet it still had a full underfloor heating system.
Its floor appears to have been made up of red, yellow and white mosaic tiles called tesserae. So far, around 500 of these tiny tiles have been uncovered at the excavation site.
Underfloor heating is very versatile. It can be installed under floors that are made from most materials, but even today, ceramic and stone tiles are considered to produce the best results. These materials have a high thermal mass, which means that they hold and conduct heat very efficiently.
The villa was made from masonry but was surrounded by the more modest wood dwellings that were common at the time.