Thanks to an innovative TV project with Channel 4, a Roman villa urbana - a high status Roman town house - has been erected at Wroxeter in Shropshire, on the site of the fourth largest city in Roman Britain. A six part TV series will start on Thursday 20 January following a team of modern builders as they set about building the town house using traditional Roman methods.
The villa will be open to the public from Saturday 19 February, daily from 10am. It will greatly enhance the visitor experience at Wroxeter and will help bring history alive for the many school parties that come to the site each year.
Dr Simon Thurley, Chief Executive of English Heritage, says: "The series is immensely entertaining and an eye-opener. What a great way to approach history. I urge everyone to come to Wroxeter and see for themselves the remarkable replica they have built and appreciate the energy and ingenuity that defined so much of the Roman era.
Wroxeter began as a legionary fortress and later developed into a thriving civilian city, populated by retired soldiers and traders. Today you can see the remains of the impressive 2nd century municipal baths and visit the site museum to understand how the city worked in its heyday.
The design for 'Villa Urbana' was inspired by an actual building excavated at this important Roman site and was created by Professor Dai Morgan Evans, visiting professor in archaeology at Chester University. Using local materials and traditional methods and tools as much as possible, the building process has helped shed new light on how incredible feats of ancient engineering were achieved.
Julian Ware, Head of Special Projects for Darlow Smithson Productions who created the programme for Channel 4, says: "This is the ultimate exploratory archaeology project. By doing you discover how, and we hope that by rebuilding this villa we will be able to offer a real insight into the thoughts and processes of the Roman engineers."
The site for the construction was chosen after close consultation with English Heritage and filming took place in the early summer of 2010 after planning approval was granted. To ensure that the underlying archaeology of the area is not disturbed, the villa was built on top of a protective raft above the ground.
Rome Wasn't Built in a Day, a six-part series, will start on Thursday 20 January 2011 at 9pm on Channel 4.