Wyrtig

For gardeners with a sense of history
 

OE wyrtig, adj: Garden-like, full of plants;
On anum wyrtige hamme, Homl. Skt. ii. 30:312
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Bancroft Villa

Roman Bancroft's first residence was a thatched aisled hall whose floors were of beaten earth. After this house burned, in about 170 CE, a new stone house was built, and given a tile roof.

The early farmstead at Bancroft Villa

This new residence had three main rooms with painted mortar floors and painted walls. One room had hypocaust heating. A bath house was installed at the south end of the villa. The area north of the house was cobbled.

The farmstead included two barns, a granary, round-houses (perhaps for laborers, or for the traditionalists among the owners or managers), and a walled rectangular area thought to be a garden.

Another enclosure is thought to have been a kitchen garden, for its sodden soil  preserved remains of brassicas, caper spurge, celery, coriander, mustard, and summer savory.

More than a century later, in about 340 CE, the main residence was remodeled and expanded to create a winged corridor villa. A portico was added, along with more rooms and a larger bath house. Most rooms were given mosaic floors. 

In the garden a pool with a long, low, ornamental limestone wall was added, fed with overflow water from the cold bath in the bath house. The water flowed into and drained out of the pool through pipes of wood, tile, and lead.

Between the pool and the house was an area of rich soil that was probably a flower bed. Although no planting trenches were found in the large garden area, this may be because the soil was suitable without such trenches. At the southeast corner of the house, an octagonal structure was built that some think was a gazebo, while others identify it as a shrine.

Another walled enclosure, also southeast of the house, appears to have been a garden or an orchard. A knife of a kind used to prune fruit trees and grapevines was found there, similar to this one portrayed in 2nd century Roman mosaic. Roughly made ceramic pots with holes for drainage -- flower pots --  were also found.

 

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Botanists are among those who know that, in spite of the rude shocks of life,
it is well to have lived, and to have seen the everlasting beauty of the world.
F.D. Drewitt

 

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