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6 April 2011

See the Crofton Roman Villa

Down in Orpington, just inside this website's M25 boundary, they have the remains of their own Roman Villa, saved in 1988 after many years of uncertainty. When the villa was rediscovered by railway workmen in 1926, its north-eastern portion had already been destroyed by railway works in the 19th century, but it is still easy to imagine how it might have looked, and the remains are now enclosed and open to the public.

Back when the surrounding areas were nothing but rolling countryside, in AD 140 to 400, the villa was possibly the home of a Roman soldier, or a Romanised Englishman made good, and sat at the heart of a farming estate of hundreds of acres.

Nowadays, it sits in a concrete barn between Orpington Station and an accountant's office, but all credit should go to the local volunteers who run it today and the Kent Archaeological Rescue Unit, whose work in the 1980s helped to save the villa from disappearing under a fancy new car park.

Today, kept open with the help of volunteers, the villa reopened for the summer season last week, and remains open on Wednesday, Fridays and Bank Holiday Mondays, as well as the first Sunday of the month only. Entry is a steal at £1.50, especially given the attentive and enthusiastic reception. For more information, see http://cka.moon-demon.co.uk/villa.htm

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