This large Roman villa, of the courtyard type, was discovered in 1779 by labourers digging for useable building stone. It was partly excavated in 1794 by the prominent antiquarian Samuel Lysons (d. 1819), the co-author (with his brother Daniel) of the much acclaimed work Magna Britannia, published in several volumes between 1806 and 1822. He recorded rooms sporting an under-floor heating system or hypocaust, tessallated pavements and painted wall plaster as well as a sculpted stone scarcophagus; all evidence pointing to a very high-class Romano-British residence. Surface finds made since Lysons’ initial investigations include Roman pottery, mosaic tesserae, tegulae roof-tiles and a Roman-styled brooch. (AHDS)
The Archaeology and History Data Service records the ‘slight earthwork remains’ of a Deserted Medieval Village (DMV) settlement at Elkstone just to the north-west (Grid Ref. SO983115), which may indicate continued occupation of the immediate area into the Middle-Ages. (AHDS)
The Colesbourne villa lies about a mile to the east of the Roman road (Antonine Itinerary – Iter XIII) between the Roman colony at Gloucester and the civitas capital of the Dobunni tribe at Cirencester.
The Mosaics at Comb End
In a long corridor (Corridor 1 on Lyson’s plan of 1789) uncovered by labourers in 1779 was a (monochrome?) tessallated pavement consisting of concentric diamonds and chequers with alternating concentric squares, small chequers and duplex knots. Another floor uncovered in 1787 was said to contain a motif of birds and fishes, but there are no supporting drawings or other documentary evidence. In room 4 of Lyson’s plan of 1817 a floor uncovered in 1794 consisted of several panels containing two-coloured “C” shapes set back-to-back in pairs with interlaced shaded circles and diamonds, the whole enclosed within a border of swastikas. Corridor 7 on Lyson’s 1817 plan, also uncovered in 1794, contained a tessallated floor consisting of a blue and white chequered pattern with brown stripes. (Rainey, p.57)