The Big Cat and the Roman

Rumours have been rife in this corner of the Cotswolds for many years. Tales are told of a large black cat, a ‘Puma’ lurking in the undergrowth, living in the deep valley and the dense woods.This has recently reached a crescendo following the discovery of two deer which have been killed and ripped to pieces in the wood. Experts say both maulings had the hallmarks of a big cat. The ‘cat’ affair has now reached the national press and radio, next stop TV cameras and reporters.DNA evidence has been removed from the carcass of the deer, and plaster castes taken of the paw prints in the mud. However, no conclusive evidence has been found.Is this just another wild goose chase, or someone’s rather large well fed black domestic cat, could it be a Loch Ness Monster story? 

courtesy wikipedia

This deep, secluded, cat stalked valley, was once home to another significant interloper – A Roman, of high status, thought to be a Governor of the province, or the Roman General,Vespasian. He built himself a large villa in a prime spot in the valley, leaving behind one of the most wonderful mosaic pavements from the villa, known as the Orpheus Pavement.

courtesy Daily Mail

Replica of the Orpheus Pavement 

The pavement is one of the biggest, complex, and intricate mosaic designs found in northern Europe, measuring 2,209 square feet. When complete, it contained one and a half million peices of stone (tesserae). It was made around AD 325 by craftsmen from Corinium (Cirencester) with the main design based on Orpheus and his relationship with nature. This pavement was in the large hall, but the villa included 60 rooms – 20 of which boasted mosaic floors.

Incidentally I hear that we have Wallabies too!



  1. Love the link between the cat and the Roman, Rosemary, and now I have a new place I’d love to visit! Thanks!

    1. Your family would enjoy the Roman Museum in Cirencester where there is also an amphitheatre, just the grass shape remains. Unfortunately it is not possible to see the wonderful pavement in the valley. It lies under soil and grass in a churchyard. It was last uncovered in 1973 but attracted 140,000 visitors and caused such traffic congestion in the narrow lanes that the villagers decided it should never be unearthed again.

  2. We’re quite near Silchester, and have inspected a beautiful old eagle the Romans left behind at Reading museum, amongst other artefacts: but we have not made it to investigate Cirencester.

    Might find some wallabies along the way 🙂

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