Roman Villas, Birthday cakes and Blisters

Well, I finally got to indulge myself with one of my long held dreams over the weekend and went digging on a Roman site.

This was the Roman villa at Bignor. I don’t know if any of you have ever had a chance to visit this place, but Christ it’s special. The mosaics they have uncovered there are quite spectacular – the most notable being a Medusa head flanked by representations of the four seasons and then in another room, Venus surrounded by duelling gladiators. There is also an exposed hypercaust which is wonderful.
The event in question was one of those open weekends where kids are invited to come along and get shown basic digging techniques and live out their Time Team fantasies.
I spent half the day on my face trowelling through a test pit (the aray of blisters on my hands are testament to this) and the rest stopping 8 year olds from hacking their way through to Australia. “No pet, carve down. Layer by layer. Use the edge of the trowel. No – put the shovel down… No, seriously: put the shovel down…”
Half way through the day I was surprised by a birthday cake and some singing (28 today), which was accompanied by many bemused looks from upper-class english mothers who were wondering who the sunburnt paddy in the Indiana Jones hat was and why people were crooning to him.
Anyway, Karen (that’s me missus) asked could she come along for the weekend. She knows nothing about archaeology, apart from what she has seen in in Tomb Raider games and what she has gleaned from me waffling on and on about whatever I have seen on the Discovery channel.
We ended up investigating a drainage ditch, looking for any pottery fragments and floor tiles so that the dig leader can build a case for opening a trench in there. We’re moseying along when Karen sticks her head up and says: “Oooooh. What’s this?” whilst she holds up a red-brown lump. Well, the woman had only gone and found half a rim from a Dragendorff 27 Samian pot, which we later dated to between 50-100 A.D. It’ll be placed in the museum on site.
I’ll never hear the end of this….

Damien DeBarra was born in the late 20th century and grew up in Dublin, Ireland. He now lives in London, England where he shares a house with four laptops, three bikes and a large collection of chairs.


  1. Listen Love, when are you going to just face facts: I’m simply better than you at everything… i’m better than yooouuu…. i’m better than yooouuu…. i’m better than yooouuu!

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