Wealthy Romans had all mod cons beneath their feet: beautifully decorated floors and underfloor heating. St Albans in Hertfordshire is lucky enough to have some excellent Roman mosaics left by its former inhabitants, from the time when it was Roman Verulamium.
The award winning Verulamium Museum has several beautiful examples on display – see top and below.
Other Roman ruins in the town include a mosaic and hypocaust, a Roman theatre and a few sections of the old town walls.
The huge mosaic and hypocaust in what is now Verulamium Park were uncovered by Mortimer and Tessa Wheeler in the 1930s. Click here for an image showing the excavations.
The quality and size (around 220,000 tesserae!) indicate that it belonged to a substantial and wealthy Roman villa. In fact it is believed that this was just one room of a large two storey villa that would have been around 60 m long and contained at least 30 rooms. Both the mosaic floors and central heating system are in remarkably good condition. It was decided to leave them in situ in the park and a building has been constructed around them to protect them against the elements.
If you have any interest in Roman times this mosaic and the museum just have to be on your to-visit list. St Albans is just 20 minutes by train from London’s St Pancras Station.