of the Roman villa, on the W bank of the Darent river
9.6 km S of Dartford, was first recorded in the 18th c.
and excavated in 1949-60. Pre-Roman occupation is
attested by finds of pottery and of two coins, but the
earliest Roman buildings date from the late 1st c.
The first house was a simple but well-constructed
building (at least 21 m N-S x 13.5 E-W) with a projection at the N end and incorporating a cellar. A small
circular temple, 4.5 m in diameter, was added at the
beginning of the 2d c. on a terrace behind the house.
Towards the end of the 2d c. the house was substantially
modified by the addition of a suite of baths at the S
end and by the conversion of the cellar, now decorated
with a painting of three water nymphs, to ritual use. At
the same time a second cult room, with a plan similar
to that of a small Romano-Celtic temple and with a
central receptacle for water, was added N of the cellar;
tiled steps led down to these cult rooms. Finally, a detached kitchen (9 x 6 m) containing two ovens, was
built 3 m behind the center of the house; it was erected
over the foundation burial of an infant. This second and
richer phase appears to have been of short duration for,
although the kitchen was converted into a tannery, the
main house lay derelict from ca. 220.
When occupation was resumed ca. 280 much rebuilding was necessary: the baths were refloored and substantial alterations made to the N end of the house, the
stairs to the cellar were blocked, and in part replaced
by a hypocaust which also obliterated the second cult
room; the cellar itself, redecorated, became the repository for two marble busts, possibly portraits of the earlier
2d c. occupants. Also in the late 3d c. a large granary
(24 x 10.5 m) with elaborate underfloor ventilation, was
erected S of the house.
Occupation was continuous throughout the 4th c., but
further additions and alterations were made. A temple
mausoleum, similar to a normal Romano-Celtic temple
but containing the burials of a young man and a young
woman in lead coffins, was built on a terrace behind the
house, S of the earlier circular temple, which was then
dismantled. In the house, an apsidal triclinium was built
into the W side and both there and in the adjoining
room figured mosaics were laid—in the former, Europa
and the Bull (with the inscription INVIDA SI TAURI VIDISSET
IUNO NATATUS / IUSTIUS AEOLIAS ISSET AD USQUE DOMOS),
in the latter, Bellerophon slaying the Chimera.
Later still (ca. 360-370) the room over the cellar was
converted into a Christian chapel, approached through
an antechamber and a vestibule with a separate entrance
on the N side of the house. The chapel was identified by
piecing together the wall plaster which had fallen into
the cellar below. Reassembly of the fragments showed
that one wall of the chapel had been decorated with a
frieze of orantes standing between pillars, while a second
wall of the chapel and one of the antechamber each had
a design of a Chi-Rho surrounded by a floral wreath.
Shortly afterwards the baths were dismantled and the
granary reduced to a cart-standing, but the Christian
rooms at least continued in use until the early 5th c.
when the house was finally destroyed by fire.
Lullingstone does not compare in size with the great
houses of the Cotswolds (cf. North Leigh, Chedworth,
Woodchester), nor even with neighboring Darenth, but it
may be taken as typical of the second class of British
villas and has been more thoroughly examined than
any other. The religious aspects are of especial interest,
and the recovery of the designs on the wall plaster was
an important development in archaeological technique.
The remains are in the care of the Department of the
Environment and substantial parts of the house are open
Excavation reports: G. W. Meates,
63 (1950) 1-49; 65 (1952) 26-78;
66 (1954) 15-36; 70 (1956) 249-50; id., Lullingstone
(1955); mausoleum: id., JRS
; temple: id., JRS
51 (1961) 189-90; site guide:
id., Lullingstone Roman Villa
(1963); wall-plaster: K. S.
33 (1968-69) 131-50; mosaics: D. J.
Smith in A.L.F. Rivet, ed., The Roman Villa in Britain
(1969) 117-18; J.M.C. Toynbee, Art in Roman Britain2
(1963) 200-1; busts: ibid. 126-28; Christian aspects:
id. in M. W. Barley & R.P.C. Hanson, eds., Christianity
in Britain 300-700