Wildlife among the archaeology

Greated crested newt at Chedworth Roman Villa

As well as an ancient site full of history Chedworth Roman Villa is a little haven for a variety of wildlife, some rare and some making use of the ancient remains.

Many different birds can be regularly spotted around the villa including some less common songbirds like nuthatch and grey wagtail. A number of bat species are at home here and nest in the loft space at the reception. Deer can be seen on some mornings running across the edge of the woodland, and it's not unusual to encounter a hare suddenly jumping up from behind one of the historic stone walls.

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

Roman Snails

Yet there are even more special inhabitants at the Villa - Roman snails. These rather large gastropods have managed to survive and thrive here since Roman times.

They were brought to the villa as a popular delicacy of Romano-British cuisine over 1700 years ago, where they were fattened on milk before being stuffed with herbs. A few escaped captivity in the kitchen and have become well established.

Known by their Latin name as Helix Pomatia, these snails still live around the villa grounds, enjoying the cool cavities of the historic stone walls.

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

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

Rare newts

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

Great crested and palmate newts were both spotted here by our wildlife experts and the BBC Springwatch team. The males of these Great Crested Newts can be recognised by a distinctly large dragon-like crest and a flame-shaped tail.

The Roman water shrine – Nymphaeum – is, unsurprisingly,  their favourite place. An ancient spring still runs via its original inlet into the octagonal pool of water.

The spectacular great crested newts share this pool with a few other amphibians - palmate newts and frogs.