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A Roman villa containing a rare mosaic that depicts scenes from Homer’s Iliad has been found beneath a farmer’s field.
The mosaic, found in Rutland, has been described as the first example of its kind in the UK.
It was discovered by the landowner’s son and investigated by archaeologists from the University of Leicester.
Historic England described the mosaic as “one of the most remarkable and significant… ever found in Britain”.
The mosaic and surrounding villa complex have now been protected as a Scheduled Monument by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) on the advice of Historic England.
The complex is thought to have been occupied by a wealthy individual from the late Roman period.
Jim Irvine, son of landowner Brian Naylor, made the initial discovery after spotting “unusual pottery” on a walk during the 2020 lockdown, and contacted the archaeological team at Leicestershire County Council.
He said: “My family have been farming this land for 50 or 60 years.
“During lockdown last year, I noticed some pottery on the ground which didn’t look like any pottery I’d seen before.
“We came down here with a spade and I dug a shallow trench and I was in exactly the right place.”
Historic England then funded urgent excavation work at the site by the University of Leicester.
The mosaic, which forms the floor of what was thought to be a dining or entertaining area of the villa, measures 11m x 7m (36ft x