Page last updated at 13:38 GMT, Wednesday, 23 July 2008 14:38 UK

Roman remains make public debut

Roman skull at Lullingstone
The skull and skeleton of a man in his 20s was found at the villa

Hundreds of Roman artefacts are to go on public display for the first time since they were excavated 60 years ago.

The 240 items were found at Lullingstone Roman Villa, near Sevenoaks in Kent, during digs at the site from the late 1940s until 1961.

Lullingstone, a prosperous farm occupied for more than 300 years, is said to be one of the most complete Roman villas discovered in Britain.

The new display follows a 1.3m building programme by English Heritage.

It includes a collection of grave goods with the bodies of a man and a woman from the 4th Century, who both died in their mid-20s.

Objects buried with them include 30 gaming counters, which were possibly used for a game similar to backgammon, and placed with the bodies for entertainment during the journey to the afterlife.

A sound and light show illuminates the ruined villa from above.

The lights pick out areas such as the bath suite and the dining room, as well as the mosaic floor laid during the 4th Century.

Lullingstone Roman Villa went through four stages of development before being abandoned in the early 5th Century.

It was known that a Roman site existed at Lullingstone during the 19th Century but its location was not pinpointed until 1939.

The site was taken into state guardianship in the 1950s and a visitors' building erected before it re-opened to the public in 1963.

The exhibits at Lullingstone include the body of a man and a woman, who died 1700 years ago.


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