Rome Wasn't Built in a Day

Episode Guides

Six builders attempt to build an authentic Roman villa working with only the tools and materials that the Romans themselves would have used

About the Show

Six builders attempt to build an authentic Roman villa working with only the tools and materials that the Romans themselves would have used

Series 1 Summary

Foreman Jim, plasterer Tim, plumber Kevin, carpenter Fred, brickie Darren and labourer Ben are going to try to construct the first authentic Roman villa in Britain in 1,600 years, using only tools and materials that were available to the Romans.

The villa is for English Heritage and they have just six months for the job. In a venture of enormous ambition, the builders will test archaeologists' theories about how the Romans really built: the villa will have working under-floor heating, a bath house, frescoes and mosaics.

All this without power tools, and aided by a manual of Roman building, written in 25BC by the engineer Vitruvius. The villa will be built at Wroxeter in Shropshire, once a major Roman city.

  • Rome Wasn't Built in a Day

    Episode 1

    In this episode the builders meet Prof. Dai Morgan Evans, the archaeologist who's designed their villa. He strips them of most of their modern tools and shows them how to consult the Auguries to make sure the gods approve the site.

    The first critical phase of the build is the stone work, which includes half-metre-high base walls, which will support a vast oak frame, and full-height bath house walls.

    So the six men need to hand hew 150 tonnes of sandstone, mix 30 tonnes of ancient lime mortar and build a cart to shift it all about. Thousands of stones will have to be hand shaped, just as the Romans did. It's a steep learning curve as they must master a new range of skills including quarrying stone, making lime mortar and using Roman tools including a Roman surveying device, the groma.

  • Rome Wasn't Built in a Day

    Episode 2

    The six skilled builders trying to construct an authentic Roman villa, using only ancient technology, tackle the epitome of Roman sophistication: the bath house.

  • Rome Wasn't Built in a Day

    Episode 3

    The builders face the most challenging and dangerous phase of the project, constructing the giant timber frame for their authentic Roman villa, using the tools the Romans would have had.

  • Rome Wasn't Built in a Day

    Episode 4

    The builders race to get the roof on their Roman villa before the weather breaks, and explore their artistic sides as they work on the mosaic floor, fresco wall and good-luck phallus.

  • Rome Wasn't Built in a Day

    Episode 5

    Six builders try to construct a Roman villa, using only authentic tools and materials. The bath house is nearly finished, but a test run of the under-floor heating ends with thick smoke.

  • Rome Wasn't Built in a Day

    Episode 6

    The final push is on to get the Roman villa completed before winter. But the plaster won't set, the mosaic tiles won't stick and cracking noises are coming from the hypocaust floor.

Rome Wasn't Built in a Day synopsis

Six builders attempt to build an authentic Roman villa working with only the tools and materials that the Romans themselves would have used

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