Diameter: 90.000 cm (circle)
Gift of Kent County Council
P&EE 1967 4-7 1
Room 49: Roman Britain
Part of a wall painting from a Roman villa
Roman Britain, 4th century AD
The Christian monogram
This wall painting was found at Lullingstone, Kent, in the Darenth valley, when the remains of a Roman villa were excavated in 1949. The villa had been built in the late first century AD, and altered and extended several times in the succeeding 300 years. There was evidence for pagan worship at the site well into the fourth century AD, but eventually the family which ran the estate adopted Christianity. At this early date in the history of Christianity, house-chapels and other types of accommodation must have been at least as common as purpose-built churches. A small suite of first-floor rooms at Lullingstone (probably provided with external access) was set aside as a Christian place of worship.
The walls were decorated with elaborate paintings on Christian themes, which have been partially reconstructed . This area bears a monogram formed by the Greek letters chi and rho, the first two letters of Christ's name, which was the standard symbol of Christianity at this period, together with the Greek letters alpha and omega, the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, another symbol of Christ - 'I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last' (Revelation 1:8).
G. de la Bédoyère, Roman villas and the countrysi (London, Batsford/English heritage, 1993)
G.W. Meates, The Roman Villa at Lullingston (Maidstone, Kent Archaeological Society, 1987)
C. Thomas, Christianity in Roman Britain (London, Batsford Academic and Educational, 1981)