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Archaeologists discover ancient Roman villa with central heating

Archaeologists in Bedale in northern England have discovered a remarkable Roman villa at the proposed construction site for a new bypass. The villa includes an ancient sort of central heating system under its concrete floor.

The villa features a room that was heated by what was known as a hypcocaust heating system, Culture 24 reports. The room drew hot air beneath the floor from an external fire, and hollow "box-flue" wall tiles attached to the stone walls allowed the heat to travel out through the top of the building, using air vents. The walls of the heated room featured colorful, painted wall plaster, and the archaeologists believe it was used for dining or other entertaining.

The site is near Catterick, where there was once a major Roman fort and settlement, Culture 24 notes. Excavation of the villa complex began last November. Archaeologists have also found pottery fragments that date to the third and fourth centuries, as well as animal bones and iron tools, at the site.