2000 years ago, the Romans transformed Britain by building straight roads, spectacular aqueducts and magnificent cities. The countryside was also studded with luxurious villas. But today only ruins remain.
Now, six skilled builders are about to change that. What happens when you take six modern day builders, strip them of their Black and Deckers and ask them to build a Roman villa with nothing more than Vitruvius manual to Roman building written in 25BC?
The six modern builders hail from across Britain and are skilled in their own trades. They are foreman Jim, plumber Kevin, plasterer Tim, carpenter Fred, brickie Darren and labourer Ben. They will be responsible for the building process and assisted by archaeologist Professor Dai Morgan Evans.
In just six months they’ll try to construct an authentic Roman villa at Wroxeter in Shropshire where once a great Roman city stood. This monumental venture will provide a unique insight into Roman technology and the way they lived. The builders will be putting to the test archaeologists theories about how the Romans really built in a venture of enormous ambition.
Building work will include everything from giant timber frames to tiny mosaics and Roman glass windows. Involved in the build are 26 tonnes of plaster, 200,000 tesserae for the mosaic, 150 tonnes of sandstone bricks faced by hand, 15 tonnes of lime mortar, over 30 tonnes of oak, 1500 hand cut joints in the timber frame and 2,600 handmade clay roof tiles. In order to complete the tasks the builders will have to transform themselves into Roman craftsmen; using where possible only tools and materials know to the Romans. They will have to master an array of ancient skills and will be aided by a manual on Roman building written in 25BC by the engineer Vitruvius.
This unique, light and fun character-driven series offers a fresh way of looking at the technology and designs of our ancestors. The series will offer a real insight into how the Romans built and lived.
A Darlow Smithson Production in Association with Channel 4