The Villas of Late Roman Britain and the Vocabulary of Aristocratic Power and Culture in the West

Alan Esmonde Cleary

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Too often the culture of elites in Roman-period Britain has been studied out of its wider context, which has impoverished our understanding. This article seeks to replace certain characteristics of British villas in the wider context. It does this by examining together the overall plans of some large villas along with their more complex architectural elements such as reception rooms and bath suites. It then examines the provision of mosaic pavements at the villas and in particular their representations of gods, heroes and tales taken from classical Greco-Roman mythology found there before moving on to the evidence from sculpture and from the treasures of silver plate which form such a remarkable group from late Roman Britain. This evidence is then synthesised to demonstrate the behaviour of the British elites and their cultural concepts insofar as they are materialised through the buildings studied and their décor. Parallels are suggested with Gaulish and Spanish villas of the fourth century along with their decoration to show how the evidence from Britain integrates into a wider aristocratic culture.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLibera Curiositas
Subtitle of host publicationMelanges d'histoire romaine et d'antiquite tardive offerts a Jean-Michel Carrie
EditorsChristel Freu, Sylvain Janniard, Arthur Ripoll
Place of PublicationTurnhout
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)978-2-503-56873-7
ISBN (Print)978-2-503-56675-7
Publication statusPublished - 16 Nov 2016

Publication series

NameBibliotheque de l'Antiquite Tardive


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