Thirty years ago, aerial photographers from Cambridge University noted something odd about the layout of a field near the village of Abermagwr near Aberystwyth. They were doing a flyover during the summer, and because of the dry conditions, there were unexplained cropmarks in a field. At the time, they noted, “a double-ditched rectangular enclosure, with traces of a possible building within.” http://www.coflein.gov.uk/en/site/405315/details/NANT+MAGWR+ROMAN+SITE,+ABERMAGWR,+POSSIBLE+ROMAN+VILLA/
No excavations were undertaken until this summer. Researchers can now confirm that they are “the remains of a much-robbed late Roman villa. The Abermagwr villa had all the trappings of established villas in south Wales and southern England, including a slate roof and glazed windows. It was roofed with local slates, but these were pentagonal, cut with five sides and a fine point to form a highly decorative roof, common amongst villas in south-west England and the Isle of Wight. The walls were built of local stone on cobble foundations though the upper storey (If such existed) may possibly have been timber-framed and plastered. The villa was fronted by a cobbled yard. Finds from the site indicate occupation in the late 3rd and early 4th centuries AD. They include vessels in Black Burnished ware, a practical kitchen pottery imported from Dorset, and fine ware bowls from Oxfordshire. Three coins of Constantine I, minted in the first quarter of the 4th century AD, were crucial for the dating the site and were all found lying on or near late clay floor surfaces underneath the collapsed slate roof.
The villa was heavily robbed for its building stone, probably in the medieval period. ‘Robber trenches’ were dug into the ruins and most useful blocks removed leaving only the substantial clay and stone packed foundations. The building became lost from memory, and the land returned to the plough. Only the local name ‘Magwr’, meaning a ‘ruined homestead’ preserves a memory of a building here.”
One of the many, many cool things about this find is that it is the only villa in this region of Wales–in fact, none other villas have been found this far north: “Roman villas were high-status homes of wealthy landowners which sat at the heart of a farming estate. They are common throughout southern England and to a lesser extent in south-east Wales, with a few outliers in south-west Wales and a singleton in the middle reaches of the Usk valley.” http://heritageofwalesnews.blogspot.com/2010/07/4th-century-roman-villa-discovered-in.html
The exact location on Google Earth, 7 miles southeast of Aberystwyth and .36 miles to the NE of Abermagwr. The Google Earth image was taken on 1 January 2006 before any work had been done on the site.