Surprising Carry on as Villa Is Unearthed

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Byline: By Tony Henderson Environment Editor

There's going to be quite a Carry On on the banks of the Tees this weekend.

The classic view of the Roman occupation in the North had been of a few lonely military outposts harried by woad-covered Ancient Britons, as depicted by Jim Dale in 60s film Carry On Cleo.

But a startling new find suggests the Roman North could have been closer to the luxurious lifestyle enjoyed by Amanda Barrie as Cleo and Sid James as Mark Antony in the same film.

The excavation, by Durham University Archaeological Services, is revealing what is the most northerly surviving villa in the Roman Empire.

It had been thought that the Roman presence in the military zone of the North-East was largely restricted to Hadrian's Wall and associated forts and military settlements, while the locals kept to their own native lifestyle.

But the dig at Ingleby Barwick on the banks of the Tees at Stockton is building up a picture of a villa at the centre of a prosperous estate which was still functioning in the 4th Century.

It even had its own bath house with underfloor heating and was flanked by at least one substantial stone building.

"It is an absolute classic example of its type and somebody is living the life of the Roman gentleperson," said Durham University project manager Richard Annis. …