I am a mole and I live in... a Roman villa

I am a mole and I live in... a Roman villa
3rd January 2006

A family of destructive moles has been hailed as "budding amateur archaeologists" after being credited with discovering a Roman villa.

The burrowing moles unearthed fragments of Roman tiles which were deposited in molehills in fields around the Cotswold village of Withington, Gloucestershire.

Home owner Roger Box, 54, a former forensic archaeologist, became interested by the fragments littering a field at the back of his garden and contacted friends at Channel 4's Time Team archaeology programme.

Researchers were dispatched to the site in August last year and, after extensive research and exploration, an Anglo-Romano villa, which could date back to the third century AD, was unearthed.

Experts believe the newly discovered villa could be as historically important as the National Trust-owned Chedworth villa, another Roman villa, which lies three miles away.

Archaeological hotspot

The area surrounding Withington is an archaeological hotspot where several important Roman Villas have recently been unearthed, including Chedworth villa and another settlement at nearby Turkdean.

Mr Box, who designs and imports copies of Roman statues, said he was delighted with the discovery but has mixed feelings towards the moles who made the find possible.

"I live a few hundred yards from this strange site with bumps and protrusions all over it," he said. "The moles kept unearthing odd stones and tile pieces which I believed to be from an older site.

"Time Team came down to investigate and it was staggering what their geophysics machine found.

"We could see these remarkable structures showing up - it was very satisfying. The Time Team JCB scraped back the turf in one section and it revealed a mosaic pavement - it was a great feeling."

Mr Box said he had grudging admiration for the moles, describing them as "budding amateur archaeologists", but he was less flattering about those who invade his garden.

"My relationship with the moles breaks down dramatically when they decide to enter my garden," he said.

"They destroy the place by digging tunnels everywhere and there's nothing I can do to stop them. I hate them."

The Time Team investigation of the site, Villas Out Of Molehills, will be shown on Channel 4 later this month.

My cat used to hunt them, back in his youth. They are ugly little critters. I have no idea where he'd dig'em up, but he'd bring home 2-3 a day!!! EEEEEEEEEEW!!!
Perhaps archaeologists have found a new method for an initial dig? Who gets credit for the find tho?

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