Historians are becoming increasingly convinced that a villa uncovered 20 miles from London was once home to Britain’s Roman Governor.
Since Lullingstone Roman Villa was first uncovered in the 1930s experts believed it was once the home of a leading Roman or wealthy Briton, but archaeologists were unsure of the owner’s identity.
Now experts have re-examined treasures found at the site, near Orpington in Kent, and say it was almost certainly the home of Publius Helvius Pertinax.
He was governor of Britain between AD185 and 186 and went on to become Roman Emperor in AD193.
A high-quality intaglio, or seal, found just outside the villa during excavation is now believed to have been the Governor’s personal seal.
This finely-engraved victory gem was found next to some discarded coins.
The governor is known to have fled the villa at the end of the second century amid a mutiny by his soldiers. The men then looted it for gold and silver.
Roman experts believe the looters prised the seal from a gold signet ring and then left it behind as worthless. There are signs the seal has been gouged with a knife.
Historians also say two portrait busts left behind were of the governor and, almost certainly, his father.
The one of Pertinax was left decapitated in an act of spite, probably carried out by an enraged soldier.
Joanne Gray, English Heritage curator of Lullingstone, said: ‘We have always known that the site must have belonged to someone of high status because of its size, the quality of its mosaic floor and the archaeological finds.
‘The image on the seal is one of victory. It is an image often used by Romans as a sign of imperial power.’
She said the research had been carried out by archaeologists Martin Henig, who lectures in Roman art and culture at Oxford University, and German archaeologist Richard de Kind.
Mrs Gray said: ‘The research that has been done points quite strongly to Lullingstone being the home of Britain’s governor. Everything seems to fit.’
Visitors to the villa, near the village of Eynsford, can still view the basement and foundation walls of the villa.
We should note that Martin Henig published an article about the above-mentioned seal associated with Pertinax:
… available for an incredible exhorbitant price from Ingenta Connect (as often) …