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RUDSTON E Riding, Yorkshire, England.

A Roman villa on the chalk Wolds, 47 km E of York and 8 km from the coast. The site seems to have been founded in the first half of the 1st c. A.D., before the Roman conquest of Yorkshire (A.D. 71). Traces of at least six small circular huts belonging to the first phase of the settlement have been uncovered, varying from 4.5 to 7.2 m in diameter and defined by curved drainage gulleys. At this stage all the pottery was of coarse local ware, although several brooches had been imported from the S of England.

The buildings so far excavated (1933-37, 1962-66) were occupied during the 4th c. A.D.; none can yet be assigned to the 2d or early 3d c., but artifacts suggest that occupation was not interrupted. They are arranged on three sides of a square, and constructed in friable local chalk, sometimes with more durable quoins. On the E side was a comparatively substantial gateway, and beyond it a road leading towards the present village of Rudston. Immediately adjacent was a small house (25.2 x 8.7 m) built on the site of an earlier farm building. There were three living-rooms at the N end and a small bath suite at the S end. Outside the baths was a well, almost 30 m deep and, surprisingly, 2.4-2.7 m in diameter. On the S side of the site was a rectangular farm building (19.8 x 10.8 m) with several circular hearths and piles of sorted tesserae against the W wall. The principal building on the W side may have had a domestic use, but it is cut by a modern road and cannot be completely excavated. It seems likely that other buildings will be found on the N side of the site, across the modern road.

Rudston's main claim to fame lies in its mosaics, particularly the remarkable Venus pavement. A central circular panel shows the goddess bathing and attended by a Triton; surrounding panels depict hunters and wild beasts; and the border at one end (the other has not survived) has a central bust of Mercury. Although in subject matter it is conventionally classical, in execution it is a primitive, full of life and originality. The pavements are in Hull Museum.


Interim reports on 1933-37 excavations: Yorks. Arch. Journ. 31 (1934) 366-76; 32 (1936) 214-20; 33 (1938) 81-86, 321-38; 34 (1939) 102-3; I. A. Richmond, The Roman Pavements at Rudston (1933) revised as Hull Museum Publication 215 (1963).


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