The Rudston villa is situated within the territories of the Parisi tribe of the East Riding of Yorkshire (now Humberside) and has been dated to the 4th century, fairly late in the scheme of Roman Britain as a whole. It contained some of the best examples of Roman mosaics and painted wall plaster from the North of England. The villa was constructed from chalk blocks which were searched locally and sandstone probably imported from the West Riding.
The Rudston charioteer mosaic has been lifted and now resides in the Hull Museum of Transport and Archaeology (Johnson p.60 & pl.43) The Rudston Venus mosaic, discovered in 1933, has also been lifted and is now on display in a back room of the East Riding and Hull Museum (Wilson, pp.429-431 & pl.93).
The Rudston Venus mosaic is interesting in that two of its animals have been assigned names or titles, the bull depicted to the right of the central figure has the words TAV-RVS OMICIDA “the man-killing bull”, while the lion figure in the lunette (semicircular area) below the central figure bears the words LEO FLAMITER “the flaming lion” (see Birley, pl., p.101). It is possible that the four hunting figures surrounding the central figure are depictions of venatores, professional gladiators which specialised in the killing of wild animals in the arena – no doubt displaying the predilection of the villa owner.
It is very likely that the Rudston mosaics were the work of a northern school centered at York, and they share characteristics in common with other mosaics at Brantingham, Aldborough and Malton, also tessallated pavements at Horkstow and Winterton (Liversidge, p.280). Wall plaster recovered from the site prove that many of the rooms were painted, although the room which housed the Venus mosaic was decorated with the only polychrome mural (Ling, pp.46/47).
The Rudston villa was first excavated in 1839 and reported in the Gentleman’s Magazine 1839 also the Hull Advertiser and Exchange Gazette on 09/08/1839 (ADS EHNMR-629533). Initial excavations on the site of the Roman villa by the Yorkshire Archaeological Society were conducted during the years 1933-1935 and reported in The Yorkshire Archaeological Journals 1931-4 and 1934-6 also in The Journal of Roman studies 1934, 1937 & 1938 (ADS EHNMR-629534). The Yorkshire Archaeological Society also conducted excavations on the Roman villa during 1935-1937 which were reported in The Yorkshire Archaeological Journal 1936-8 (ADS EHNMR-629535). The site was extensively researched by the YAS during the period 1962-1972, during which time evidence of Iron-Age settlement and burials were uncovered along with further details of the Roman villa including a well and field systems, reported in The Yorkshire Archaeological Journals of 1963, 1966, 1967 & 1973, also in The Journal of Roman Studies 1964 & 1966; a full excavation report entitled “Rudston Roman Villa” was also penned by I.M. Stead in 1980 (ADS EHNMR-629536).