Roman Painted House

Kent Archaeological

Rescue Unit

The Roman Painted House, Dover


Discovery and Excavation


The Roman Painted House, the finest Roman House on show in Britain, was discovered by Kent Archaelogical Rescue Unit. Forty years of excavation across ancient Dover by the Unit have uncovered 50 major structures. The Painted House was the best preserved and is now a major tourist attraction. Built about AD 200 it formed part of a large mansio or official hotel, for travellers crossing the Channel. It stood outside the great naval fort of the Classis Britannica, but in AD 270 it was demolished by the Roman army during the construction of a larger fort. 


The long-lost Roman 'Saxon Shore' fort, predicted by Sir Mortimer Wheeler and found by the Kent Unit in 1970, lies buried under modern Dover. A large section of its west wall, together with a major bastion, survive inside the Roman House cover building. These cut through Rooms 3, 4 and 5.


National Awards


After discovery in 1970 the Kent Unit promoted a major tourist-preservation scheme and the House was opened in 1977, on behalf of the Dover Roman Painted House Trust. Over 700,000 visitors have seen the Roman House which is open for 150 days each year. Admission charges and voluntary effort almost cover the running-costs. The Scheme won four national awards, including "The Best Preservation of an Archaeological Site in Britain" (Country Life Award). "Outstanding Tourist Enterprise" (B.T.A. Award) and "Museum of the Year Award". The Unit also won the famous Silver Trowel Award, presented to it by H R H Prince Charles.

Volunteers Wanted!

Please Contact Us to Enquire

Roman Central Heating


The walls in four rooms survive to a height of 4-6 feet and the hard red concrete floors cover substantially complete central-heating systems. Visitors can see the large arched flues, the various heating channels and the vertical wall-flues that kept the building comfortably warm 1,800 years ago.


Unique Roman Wall Paintings


The burial by the Roman Army resulted in the unique survival of over 400 square feet of Painted plaster, the most extensive ever found north of the Alps. Above a lower dado, of red or green, visitors can still see an architectural scheme of many coloured panels framed by fluted columns. The columns sit on projecting bases above a stage, producing a clear 3-D effect. Parts of 28 panels survive, each with a motif relating to Bacchus, the Roman God of wine.

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For more informaton about the Roman Painted House, you can purchase our publication via our publications page.


For details of our school visits, please scroll down to view our Information for Teachers section.


Opening Times 2019:


1st April to 22nd April: 
5 days/week — Tuesday to Saturday

23rd April to 31st May: 
2 days/week — Tuesdays & Saturdays only

1st June to 20th September: 
5 days/week — Tuesday to Saturday


10am to 5pm

Admission:


Adults £4.00


Concessions £3.00 (children, students, pensioners).

Important Notice:


This major tourist attraction is managed and staffed entirely by volunteers, who have worked here for the past 39 years. There are no paid staff. Occasionally, through illness or other problems, some volunteers may not be available as planned and (rarely) days may be missed. If your visit involves a long journey, you might consider phoning the Painted House in advance to ensure that it's open when you arrive –01304 203279.

Contact


Dover Roman Painted House Trust

25 New Street

Dover

Kent

CT17 9AJ


Telephone: 01304 203279

Email via our Home Page

Things to see and do at the Roman Painted House

  • Graphic displays of the excavations and RPH


  • The Touch Table with a selection of Roman finds from the excavation for handling


  • Replica Roman everyday objects, including pots, jewellery, lamps and writing tablets


  • Activities for children - Roman games to play, mosaic making, dressing up as Romans and digging for finds in the excavation tray


  • Roman soldier 'rubbings'


  • Gift shop selling guide books, postcards, souvenirs and books on local archaeology



Special Exhibit of Finds


Following the publication of the Roman shore-fort at Dover in 2012 (KARU Volume 11 of Kent Monograph Series) a special display of some of the outstanding Roman artefacts discovered during the rescue excavations are now on display.


It is well worth making a visit to the Roman Painted House at Dover just to see these and several other amazing pieces in this special display!


(You can purchase a copy of the Dover shore-fort volume by visiting our publications page).

This headless sculpture ia a fine example of a statue representing a third life-size Roman wearing a full toga.

On display we have this fine sculpted marble head of a woman. It has been suggested she could be the Empress Sabina, Consort of the Emperor Hadrian or of a woman who copied Sabina's hairstyle. It might have been set in an alcove in a wall and used as a shrine during the Classis Britannica period.

Part of a well-cut inscription is also on display. The fragment consists of just parts of two lines with faint traces of red paint in the letters. The upper three letters (VSI) is unusual and the lower sT suggests a Classis Britannica link. It is suggested this piece was part of a monumental dedication inscription.

Information for Teachers

School Visits to the Roman Painted House 2019


Managed by the Kent Archaeological Rescue Unit staff


Your school is cordially invited to visit this major Roman site at Dover and to take part in its special Roman Life Activity Workshops.


Bookings and Other Details


  • Workshop sessions: Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 10am or 12.45pm
  • £3.00 per child; teachers and helpers free (maximum 5 per class)
  • Teachers and helpers are asked to help with supervision
  • Each session lasts about two hours


Telephone 01304 203279 (9am - 5pm: Tuesdays and Wednesdays in October - December, and March (from the 18th March); Tuesdays to Fridays in April to September) -- or Write to Roman Painted House, 25 New Street, Dover, Kent CT17 9AJ


  • The Roman House is close to Dover Town Centre and 600 metres from Dover Priory Station
  • There is a forecourt for limited car parking and off loading coaches
  • There are indoor toilets


Risk Assessment

Download the Risk Assessment notice


Roman Life Acitivity Workshops


An introductory talk  by an archaeologist on the exciting discovery and excavation of the Roman forts and the Roman Painted House. To illustrate one aspect of life in the Roman Dover, three children can be dressed as Romans -- as a Roman lady, a Roman senator and a Roman slave boy.


A guided talk  on the key elements of the Roman House -- its in situ wall paintings relating to the god Bacchus, its well preserved underfloor central heating system (hypocaust), its construction by the Roman navy in AD 200 and partial demolition and burial later (AD 270) by the Roman army when it built its new fort.


Other activities include:


  • Handling, drawing and labelling Roman artefacts:  each child has a tray of 'finds', including pottery, oyster shells and building materials from the Dover excavations.


  • 'Brass-rubbings'  of 14 centimetre high Roman figures to take back to school. These include various ranks of Roman soldiers, Julius Caesar, a Roman marine, the Dover lighthouse (pharos) and a Roman merchant ship.


  • Mosaic making: each child has a tray of multi-coloured 'tesserae' and Roman patterns to follow.


  • Sample worksheets  can be provided for schools to copy, if these are preferred to one of the above activities.


  • Touch table of Roman artefacts   combined with a visit to the sales desk. Items, mostly under £2.00, include a guide book, postcards, colouring book on Dover and souvenirs.

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