A Roman villa was discovered on the racecourse in 1894 and investigated by Mr. John Storrie. The site was excavated in 1922 by Sir Mortimer Wheeler, who was then Director of the National Museum of Wales. He described his findings as follows: "Here some time during the first half of the 2nd century some Romanized settler built a small house upon an island formed by a branching streamlet in a flat tree-lined marsh. The house was of half-H shaped plan with wings facing south and fronted by a continuous veranda. Above this the main block doubtless rose to a second storey. Close by lay a second building, oblong in plan, again with a veranda along the main front. To the southern end of this second structure was added shortly afterwards a small but complete set of baths. In connexion with this establishment iron-smelting was carried on... After various modifications ... the second structure was demolished and the remaining buildings were surrounded, apparently within a quarter-century of A.D. 300, by ... banks and ditches ... and not many years afterwards the whole establishment seems to have fallen into disuse."
In 1952 the Council received a notice from the Minister of Works concerning the Ely Roman villa on the racecourse site. This was included in the list of monuments under the 1913 Ancient Monuments Act of Parliament, meaning that no work of demolition, removal or repair could be carried out unless three months notice had been given to the Ministry.
The site of the villa can be seen as an unmown area in the middle of the park at ST 14730 76173. The complete article by R. E. M. Wheeler is avilable from Cambridge University Press.
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