Work on new Aldi reveals 'fantastic' mosaic at site of former Roman villa in Olney

ANGLIA 210323 aldi mosaic Olney
Part of the Roman mosaic discovered at the site in Olney near Milton Keynes. Credit: Angle Property

An archaeological dig on the site of a proposed new Aldi supermarket has revealed a stunning Roman mosaic.

The discovery was made in a large room in a high-status Roman villa which would have stood on the site at Olney, near Milton Keynes.

Developers called in archaeologists after finding the floor, which they describe as an "exciting discovery" with vibrant colours and intricate decorative patterns.

Oxford Archaeology said Olney was already well known for Roman finds, which is experts were called in to investigate the site east of the Warrington Road.

John Boothroyd, senior project manager at Oxford Archaeology, said: "Due to the site location we anticipated some notable Roman remains, but the discovery of this fantastic mosaic far exceeded those expectations."

The new Aldi site at Olney seen from above Credit: Angle Property

In the course of the work, archaeologists unearthed several stone structures that they think might be cisterns for water collection and a part of a Roman bath house, only a short distance from the building identified as the possible house.

It is thought part of the structure lies under the A509 so it cannot all be investigated, but experts think the mosaic would have covered the entire floor of a large central room.

The uncovered sections show a blue and cream decoration on the outer border and a red, white and blue pattern with typical Roman decorative elements inside it.

The mosaic is examined by workmen on site Credit: ITV Anglia

David Neal, one of Britain’s foremost Roman mosaics experts, thinks that the Warrington Road mosaic could belong to the Durobrivan group found in the eastern Midlands, due to its similarity to one found at Great Staughton in Cambridgeshire.

Consultations are taking place with Milton Keynes City Council and Historic England on the best way to preserve the important mosaic.

Anthony Williamson, executive director and part owner of Angle Property, said the company had been happy to invest in finding out more about the archaeology of the site.

He said: "The mosaic find is amazing and has taken us all by surprise.

"It adds to our knowledge and understanding of our history and it will be fully recorded and the information published in due course."

Plans for the new Aldi have been adjusted to make sure the mosaic will be protected in consultation with English Heritage.

It comes days after a work started to unearth a Roman mosaic buried under a pavement outside a vape shop in Colchester.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know