A “remarkable” Roman villa has been discovered by archaeologists in Oxfordshire.

Archaeologists from the Red River Archaeology Group discovered the villa complex while working on a housing development in Grove.

The Brookside Meadows site sits on a landscape inhabited since the Bronze Age and includes the villa complex.

This is richly decorated with painted plaster and mosaics, and a monumental hall-like ‘aisled building’ with hints of internal colonnades.

thisisoxfordshire: Red River Archaeology have been working at the site.Red River Archaeology have been working at the site. (Image: Red River Archaeology)

The artefact-rich site was long-lived, with Roman activity extending from the 1st or 2nd centuries into the late 4th or perhaps even the early 5th century AD.

Finds include painted plaster inclusive of floral motifs, mosaic tesserae, hypocaust box flue tiles, a complex brickwork floor and miniature votive axes.

There was also Samian-style red-slip tableware, hundreds of coins, rings and brooches as well as a horse-headed belt buckle dating to AD 350-450.

Several tightly coiled lead scrolls that recall Roman ‘curse tablets’ were also discovered which, when viewed with the axes, suggests a ritual focus somewhere on the estate.

thisisoxfordshire: The site was discovered in Grove, Oxfordshire.The site was discovered in Grove, Oxfordshire. (Image: Red River Archaeology Group)

 A huge hall-like ‘aisled building’ which seems to date from the late 1st century AD was also a major find on the site.

To date, four huge potential columns for an internal colonnade have been uncovered in the aisled building which is one of the larger examples of its type from Britain.

This building is immediately adjacent to a ‘winged-corridor’ villa, a high-status domestic structure with a central range and flanking wings of rooms accessed by a central corridor.

Louis Stafford, senior project manager at Red River Archaeology Group, said: “The sheer size of the buildings that still survive and the richness of goods recovered suggest this was a dominant feature in the locality, if not the wider landscape.”

thisisoxfordshire: Several Roman artefacts have been unearthed at the site.Several Roman artefacts have been unearthed at the site. (Image: Red River Archaeology Group)

Francesca Giarelli, a project officer with the archaeological outfit, said: “The site is far more complex than a regular rural site and clearly was an important centre of activities for a long time, from the Bronze Age to the later Roman period.”

The housing development is being overseen by Barratt and David Wilson Homes and will see several two-bedroom apartments and three, four and five-bedroom houses erected.

Barratt and David Wilson Homes have worked with the archaeologists in the early stages of its developments, allowing experts to carry out excavations in sites of interest.

The company’s managing director Campbell Gregg said: “It’s remarkable to think that we are simply the latest in a line of people who have established a community on this site, dating back such a long way.

“It’s been fantastic to work with Red River Archaeology Group in the early stages of Brookside Meadows to develop the local historical understanding and heritage.”