AN undiscovered Roman temple and villa could be hidden in the grounds of Sudeley Castle, according to archaeologists.

Experts are calling for an investigation into the site at Stancombe Wood, in Winchcombe, following the discovery of a Roman sculpture which had been missing for nearly 100 years.

As previously reported in the Journal, a stone relief of Roman god Cunomaglos or the Hound Prince, was rediscovered by Sudeley archivist Jean Bray in a cupboard last month. Now the castle team has discovered a Roman column within the castle, which was discovered propping open a door.

The Rev Professor Martin Henig believes the column, which would have been only about 40cm high, could have stood on the dwarf wall of a portico, possibly of a temple or of a private house.

The expert on the Romans in the Cotswolds believes that the statue, which dates from 150AD-300AD, points to a further undiscovered temple at Stancombe Wood.

“It is the sort of relief that one would expect to find in a temple, probably dedicated by a worshipper there,” he said. “We are finding that villas quite often included temples on the estate and our Apollo Cunomaglos suggests that there may be more to be discovered at Stancombe.”

A Roman Villa was discovered at nearby Wadfield in 1863 and one in Spoonley Wood, in 1882. Both were excavated by Emma Dent, former Sudeley owner, and the finds included mosaic pavements.

Archaeologist Dr Patricia Witts said there is evidence that when an oil pipeline was installed in the area in 1985, it cut through two Roman buildings between Stancombe Wood and Spoonley Wood, near Winchcombe.

“As fragments of mosaic were found, it suggests the presence of another villa here,” she said. “We can imagine the area around what is now Sudeley Castle dotted with prestigious Roman dwellings.

“It is exciting to think what might be found. The famous Chedworth Roman villa lies only a few miles to the south of Sudeley and it is known that there was a temple nearby, as well as other villas in the vicinity. Perhaps Sudeley was similar.”

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