The Temple or Room? The Interpretation of Frampton Roman Temple/Villa Site in the LIght of Recent Geophysical Survey Results

Authors: Cheetham, P., Russell, M. and Stewart, D.

Editors: LInford, P.

Start date: 4 December 2018

The Roman site of Frampton (Dorset) is something of an archaeological enigma. Discovered and first excavated in the 1790s (fig. 2), four rooms, all connected by corridors were found to contain high quality figurative Roman mosaics, one famously bearing the rare Christian Chi-Ro monogram and an even rarer inscription (fig. 1), These floors have been considered by some scholars to be part of a temple complex situated on a raised platform amid the water meadows of the river Frome. A scheduled ancient monument, the site is listed “Frampton Roman villa” (Historic England 2018), however, its position, right on the valley floor, made no apparent sense as a domestic structure, and the early plans suggested a series of isolated structures, convincing some archaeologists that it had a religious function. At the time of the excavations, the mosaics were considered to be some of the finest found in Britain, with King George III visiting on two occasions. The site was further investigated in 1903, but nothing was discovered to help understand the structure any better, and so the temple or villa question has remained unresolved.

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