Tuesday 3 October 2023

Round the houses

 A little later than planned, but here's the post I promised about our time spent over at Butser Ancient farm for the Autumn Equinox. There's a bit of background about the project and information about the Roman Villa from an older post here https://gnatbottomedtowers.blogspot.com/2016/05/butser-ancient-farm.html Speaking of which I found these two Viking Re-enactors lurking by the villa. Historically they are a few centuries out, but just behind them you can see the reconstruction of the Roman garden which wasn't there on our last visit. At its centre is this brand spanking new mosaic which was revealed in August....well I say brand spanking new, but it's actually been constructed from genuine Roman tesserae. When the M4 was being built it went through a villa in Badbury, Wilts and these are where they were rescued from. It's always good to see a bit of recycling going on. The design is based on one from Sparsholt in Hampshire.



The other new addition is this larium which was apparently a domestic shrine to the household gods. It makes it sound like I know all about it, but fear not I am only parroting what I've read elsewhere. Ceres, Goddess of the Harvest is shown here because of Butser being a farm. 



The greatest joy for me though is always having the chance to nose around round and long houses. Much as I regard the achievements of the Romans with great awe, I am far more drawn to the Iron Age and Saxons. Perhaps it's the lack of written records and the conjecture based on the archaeological remains which is what makes it so fascinating for me. The houses below have been reconstructed based upon the footprint of the post holes left behind in the soil from whence the originally came. One of them is based upon a place in Glastonbury and the other in Llanfair, North Wales. What you get here is the attention to the personal details. The colours used are based on the pigments which would have been available to our ancestors. The roundels in one have been inspired by Iron Age artefacts. There may not be definitive proof that the houses were painted, but evidence of such decoration has been found on the Neolithic homes in Orkney and people like their surroundings to reflect their personal taste.




















As you'll have seen last week the boat burning provided the dramatic finale to this exciting event. Being allowed in before the paying guests allowed me to take a few close up shots of it before it was set alight. It's the work of Mark Ford of Two Circles Design and during the afternoon the visitors are encouraged to attach slips of paper with personal messages on it. 


There's a great variety of activities on offer from short talks to demos and battle renactments, live music and oh yes dancing! I was very impressed and can see why it sells out so quickly. It's hard to believe that there were 2000 visitors on site and I'm sure it's raised much needed funds for the museum's ongoing research. We have already been invited back next year👏 

Arilx

6 comments:

  1. That mosaic is breathtaking! x

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    Replies
    1. I love that they've used real Roman tesserae.

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  2. I do love a good round house. I was very sad when the crannog on Loch Tay burnt down as I could have been quite happy to move into it when we visited a few years ago.

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  3. I so wish we had known about that and planned it into our couple of weeks off work.

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    Replies
    1. They will be running the event again next year on 21st September, but the tickets go very quickly once they release them.

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