Simple Renovation Leads Homeowner To An Unprecedented Historical Discovery

A simple home renovation isn’t likely going to change your world too much. Sure, you’ll get to enjoy a fresh take on your old abode, but when the renovation’s complete, your life typically goes on just as it was… right?

When one man wanted some electricity installed in a barn on his property, he didn’t expect to find anything out of the ordinary. As soon as contractors started working, however, it was clear they’d uncovered something monumental. What he found beneath his barn would end up changing his life completely…

A home renovation tends to reinvigorate the love you have for your property—not to mention, adds a few dollars to its resale value. During Luke Irwin’s most recent renovation, though, he found something far better than a nice appreciation for his home.

Luke Irwin Rugs / YouTube

Luke, a rug designer, lived with his wife and son near the village of Tisbury, England, in a pristine, riverside region. His property was one-of-a-kind, and though he appreciated it, he didn’t realize how special it truly was.

Luke Irwin Rugs / YouTube

One day, while workers were installing a shower in his home, Luke asked them if they wouldn’t mind taking on an extra project. He wanted them to wire the detached barn 20 yards from his house so that his son had light when he played table tennis inside.

Luke Irwin Rugs / YouTube

After a short time, one of the workers called out. They’d found a strange mosaic underneath the topsoil. Uncovering original details on a property during a renovation is always an encouraging sign, but this was just the tip of the iceberg!

Wiltshire Archaeological Service

As a designer, Luke was mesmerized by the beauty of the mosaic—its zig-zag pattern, its bright colors. Little did he realize, however, that the discovery would lead him to unimaginable finds throughout all of his property.

The fact that Luke found something like this wasn’t entirely surprising; he’d always assumed his property had some medieval history to it. He didn’t know, though, just how rich the history of his home actually was.

Luke Irwin Rugs / YouTube

Still, finding the mosaic changed Luke’s understanding of his property. “When you find a mosaic,” he said, “you know this predates anything medieval.” So, he called the Wilshire County archeological department to see what this meant for his home…

The archeologists arrived within 20 minutes of Luke’s call and were floored by what they saw. “It’s a million-to-one chance of just finding a mosaic by chance,” archeologist Dr. Dave Roberts said. “It simply doesn’t happen.”

Luke Irwin Rugs / YouTube

This mosaic, more importantly, was evidence of the Ancient Romans—and it was in great shape. As Dr. Roberts put it, the quality of it was “fantastic” and “equivalent to some of the greatest villas in Britain,” like that seen at the Chedworth Villa (pictured).

Luke Irwin Rugs / YouTube

Still, the location of the find concerned the archeologists. “The frustrating thing,” Dr. Roberts said, was “that the mosaic is right under a gate leading to the modern buildings.” Those modern buildings could be on top of just about anything—so they investigated.

Luke Irwin Rugs / YouTube

As the archeologists inspected the rest of the property, subtle evidence indicated that there had once been so much more than just a mosaic there: Luke’s home had actually been constructed on top of the remains of a Roman villa!

Luke Irwin Rugs / YouTube

Slowly but surely, the archeologists created several dig sites throughout Luke’s property in search of the remains of the villa—dubbed the Deverill Villa—that the landscape suggested. Their finds went far beyond the initial mosaic…

Luke Irwin Rugs / YouTube

Along with the remains of a wall they found near the mosaic—confirming their theory that the mosaic had been in the entrance to a grand villa—archeologists uncovered tons of Roman artifacts, like coins and butcher-cut animal bones.

Luke Irwin Rugs / YouTube

They also came across oyster shells—a fascinating and telling find, as they were more than 40 miles from the shoreline. Whoever had lived in the Deverill Villa had to have been very wealthy to import oysters. Still, there was another discovery that impressed Dr. Roberts…

The Telegraph

In Luke’s back yard was a strange stone basin that had been there since he purchased the home. Most recently, it served as a flowerbed for geraniums. Dr. Roberts revealed to Luke what it actually was…

Luke Irwin Rugs / YouTube

Dr. Roberts “kept coming back to this thing to tell me to look at,” Luke said. “Why are you so interested in it?” Luke had asked. Dr. Roberts’s answer chilled him to the bone: “He said, ‘Because that is a Roman child’s coffin!'” It had been in Luke’s back yard this entire time!

Luke Irwin Rugs / YouTube

All in all, the archeologists figured that the Deverill Villa beneath Luke’s property was built between 175 and 220 AD. Whoever lived there during that time continued remodeling it until the mid-4th century.

Luke Irwin Rugs / YouTube

Unfortunately, Dr. Roberts and the archeologists at Wiltshire County didn’t have the funds to excavate the site to the extent they wanted. They needed to raise more money before they could unearth all of the villa’s secrets.

Of course, Luke found inspiration in that very first mosaic that the contractors uncovered while installing a light fixture in the barn. Luke even designed a rug of his own around the pattern he saw in it!

Luke Irwin Rugs / YouTube

Just watch Dr. Roberts and Luke’s incredible excavation from start to finish. You can see how a simple home renovation led to the rebirth of an ancient mosaic—and the discovery of an entire Roman villa!

It’s incredible that something as simple as installing light fixtures in a barn could unearth such a breathtaking piece of history. What do you think is hiding underneath your property?

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