Verulamium Park, St Albans, AL3 4SW
Mosaic and Roman Central Heating
The 1800 year old hypocaust and its covering mosaic floor were uncovered during excavations in Verulamium Park in the 1930s by Sir Mortimer & Tessa Wheeler.
It was decided to leave these in their original Roman location where they formed part of the reception and meeting rooms of a large town house. The preserved section was part of a suite that originally extended almost twice the surviving length of the room.
What is a hypocaust?
Roman hypocaust systems allowed hot air to circulate beneath the floor and through the walls of buildings. Floors were raised on brick columns (pilae) or, as in this case, trenches were cut below the floor to allow the hot air through. Part of the mosaic has collapsed into the trench below.
The mosaic covering the hypocaust was made of tesserae (small cubes) of cut stone or tile. These were set into a thin layer of fine mortar which was spread over a concrete floor. The tesserae were grouted with mortar and polished with abrasive stones. The floor may have been polished with beeswax to enhance the colours.
Summer: 1st April to 30th September
Monday to Saturday 1000-1630 hrs. Sunday 1400-1630 hrs
Winter: 1st October to 31st March
Monday to Saturday 1000-1545 hrs. Sunday 1400 -1545 hrs
For Bank Holidays and Christmas period opening, check with Verulamium Museum.
The Hypocaust is fully accessible and has a gently sloped floor. There are no toilet facilities there, but there are at Verulamium Museum.
On foot: we are about a 20 minute pleasant walk from the Town Centre - you can walk all the way down George Street, then Fishpool Street - some of the oldest streets in the city, or come via the Abbey and Verulamium Park.
By train: St Albans is on two train lines - the Thameslink line to St Albans City (Bedford/Brighton/London), about a 30 minute walk away + the Abbey Flyer line from Watford Junction to St Albans Abbey, about 15 mins walk through the Park.
By walking 3 minutes in the other direction you can visit the remains of a wonderful Roman theatre, for more details visit the Gorhambury Estate's website.