We enjoy short walks which the girls can do themselves without us carrying them, and just like the walks and picnics we enjoyed at the Great Witcombe reservoirs, it is also possible to visit the Great Witcombe Roman Villa from that same location. We ventured up the hill, following the signs to the Roman Villa to find a huge villa, perfect for the girls to explore and have a picnic at.
Our visit to Great Witcombe Roman Villa
We parked in the English Heritage car park (watch out a small sign says it’s £2 to park!), And then headed up the hill (paved path) to a gate beside the entrance to a house. The Roman Villa is sign posted to the left gate. house. Follow this path, which actually is part of the Cotswold Way and then you’ll come across an English Heritage sign with some information on Great Witcombe Roman Villa.
As you look down the hill you’ll see the remains in front of you. It is much larger than we’d expected and there is also another information board.
H is 5, and B, 3, and they loved playing the the rooms, and finding the ’tiled’ bathroom at the far end. It was a small room which is why they decided it was the bathroom!
WARNING: Watch little ones as some of the drops from the walls are quite big and some walls narrow in places.
I’d thoroughly recommend visiting the villa with a picnic it if you’re local to Cheltenham/Gloucester.
Now, having looked at the plans it was actually a ‘cold bath’ that they found! Next time we will print off the map of the villa and explore each room instead of making it up ourselves!
You could spend half an hour at the villa, or a few hours if you also have a picnic or even take a longer walk along with Cotswold Way which the walk from the car park is part of.
Alternatively you could walk down to the Witcombe reservoirs for a picnic there too. The girls love having a wander and playing tag there, although it is quite a long walk for little ones from the car park now the path has been altered.
What is Great Witcombe Roman Villa
Built around AD 250, and lived in until the 5th century Great Witcombe Roman Villa was a large country house on a large country estate. The remains include a “bathhouse complex and perhaps the shrine of a water spirit.” Mosaic pavements of many sea creatures has been preserved within a modern building (in the far corner from where you arrive from the car park), and are open for viewing on certain days. Great Witcombe Roman Villa was discovered in 1818 by farm workers.
There is some uncertainly in the age of the villa as the archaeologist who published a report on the site excavations in 1998, Peter Leach, concluded that the villa was probably built in the early 3rd century AD, however, mosaic experts have dated the mosaics to the late 2nd century AD. It may be the lower area was an original, smaller house, which was shown in surveys (but much destroyed in the excavations), and then the rest of the house was subsequently built after the mosaics.
– Info from English Heritage
Pop over to English Heritage for pictures of the mosaics and more on the villa’s history.
Visiting Great Witcombe Roman Villa
Great Witcombe Roman Villa, Great Witcombe, Brockworth, Gloucester GL3 4TW
Parking: yes a car park. Free for English Heritage members, £2 for non-members – pay by phone (text message).
Pushchair friendly: not really, maybe an off-roader at a push, but carriers are much more suitable as the Roman Villa is on grassy hill.
Facilities: none – no toilets, cafe, etc. Do take a picnic and do download the map of the villa