Wildlife among the archaeology

Chedworth male common blue butterfly

Chedworth Roman Villa is home to a variety of plants and wildlife, some rare and some making use of the ancient remains.

Throughout the seasons many different birds can be regularly spotted around the villa including some less common songbirds like nuthatch and grey wagtail. With the arrival of spring and summer, the villa sees the return of the swifts and house martins who take up residence around the roof of the lodge to hatch their chicks. 

Keep an eye out for nuthatches at Chedworth Roman Villa
Nuthatch at Chedworth Roman Villa
Keep an eye out for nuthatches at Chedworth Roman Villa

Several varieties deer can be found in the area surrounding the villa, with sightings most common early in the day when the combe is quiet. It's not unusual to encounter a hare suddenly jumping up from behind one of the historic stone walls.

A number of bat species are at home here and nest in the loft space at the reception. They can most often be seen in the early evening when they emerge to hunt for insects.

Roman Snails and insects

It's not just birds and mammals who call the villa home. There is also a wide variety of reptiles and invertibrates as well, some of which are very rare. 

One such inhabitant is the Roman snail (Helix Pomatia). These large, pale snails were brought to the villa as a popular delicacy of Romano-Brisitsh cuisine over 1,800 years ago and are still here today. The snails prefer the cooler areas of the villa site during the warmer months, and hibernate during the winter.  

Uniquely for a species which originated elsewhere, Roman snails are protected and can only be handled by those with a special licence.

Roman snails have inhabited Chedworth Roman Villa since ancient times
Roman snail at Chedworth Roman Villa
Roman snails have inhabited Chedworth Roman Villa since ancient times

Throughout the spring and warm summer months, many different varieties of butterfly can be seen feeding on flowers across the North Range and flowerbeds, including some rare species. Dragonflies are also very visible during the summer, flying across the site. 

Newts and reptiles

There are other equally as important creatures that have made the site their home.

Great crested and palmate newts have both been spotted here by wildliffe experts. The males of these great crested newts can be recognised by a distinctly large dragon-like crest and a flame-shaped tail.

The most common place to see both types of newts is at the Roman water shrine (nymphaeum). During the winter, newts will hibernate and appear again in the spring, laying their eggs in the nymphaeum.  

Frogs can also be found at the nymphaeum, and frogspawn is a common sight during spring. Insects such as waterboatmen live on the water, and can regularly be seen on the surface of the water. Around the walls of the North Range common lizards have been seen, basking on the stones.