Mosaic discovery sheds fresh light on England’s early medieval history

New discovery suggests pockets of Roman civilisation survived even after collapse of Imperial Roman authority in Britain

National Trust archaeologists & volunteers digging in the northern wing of the villa (NT Stephen Haywood)

A remarkable archaeological discovery in southwest England is helping to rewrite the country’s early medieval history.

A recently discovered Roman-style mosaic is providing extraordinary new evidence that Roman civilisation didn’t universally collapse after Imperial Roman authority came to an end in Britain.

Scientists have dated the mosaic – found in Gloucestershire in 2017 – to the mid or later fifth century, a generation or more after Britain ceased to be part of the Roman Empire in 410 AD.

The dating of the mosaic – and other discoveries elsewhere in western England and Wales – suggests that pockets of Roman civilisation survived to varying degrees in several different parts of Britain, including Cornwall, Shropshire and Gloucestershire, where the mosaic was discovered.

It is the first time in Britain that archaeologists have been able to date a mosaic to the post-Roman period.

The discovery is additional evidence revealing that Britain’s ‘Dark Age’ wasn’t universally as dark as often portrayed.

The newly dated ‘Dark Age’ mosaic was discovered in one of Britain’s most beautifully located and famous Roman villas – Chedworth in Gloucestershire.

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