A RUG designer has discovered a vast Roman villa of ‘enormous importance’ underneath his home in Warminster.

Luke Irwin, a Dublin born, award-winning luxury rug designer, was laying electricity cables underneath his home so his children could play table tennis in a barn when he came across an untouched Roman mosaic.

Upon discovering the mosaic, Mr Irwin called in Wiltshire Archaeology Service and Historic England (formerly English Heritage) to have a closer look.

Archaeologists from Historic England and Salisbury Museum then excavated the site and confirmed that the mosaic formed part of a grand villa, which was built sometime between 175 AD and 220 AD.

Mr Irwin said: “ Luke Irwin, who has lived at the house for four years, said: “It’s utterly bewildering to think that they’ve discovered things which are thought be from around 10,000 BC, and to think that people have lived here for around 12,000 years.

“When I saw the vivid colours of the mosaic it was an incredible feeling. Ever since then it has been one constant, thrilling journey.

“The thing that has been really overwhelming is how interested people seem to be. Sometimes you feel like you’re the only one who cares so passionately about something, but since the discovery I’ve learned that there are plenty of others who take a similar interest.

“I feel very strongly that there is a deep ancient culture in England, much of which is overlooked. There is a lack of funding towards archaeological discovery but the history of a country is so important.

“The site has been covered up now to preserve it. The temptation is to keep on excavating to see what else is down there, but that would be incredibly expensive and would probably get me into a lot of trouble.

“A discovery like this definitely makes you see things in a different way.”

Other artefacts discovered include discarded oyster shells, a perfectly preserved Roman well and the stone coffin of a Roman child, which was covered in geraniums until it was identified, a rare find hidden in plain sight.

Historic England Archaeologist Dr David Roberts said: “This site has not been touched since its collapse 1400 years ago and, as such, is of enormous importance.

“Without question, this is a hugely valuable site in terms of research, with incredible potential. The discovery of such an elaborate and extraordinarily well-preserved villa, undamaged by agriculture for over 1500 years, is unparalleled in recent years.

“Overall, the excellent preservation, large scale and complexity of this site present a unique opportunity to understand Roman and post-Roman Britain.”

The three-storey structure found is similar to those found in Chedworth, which means there is reason to believe that the villa belonged to a family of extraordinary wealth and importance.

Leading British historian and award-winning author, Simon Sebag Montefiore, said: "This remarkable Roman villa with its baths and mosaics uncovered by chance is a large, important and very exciting discovery that reveals so much about the luxurious lifestyle of a rich Romano British family at the height of the empire.

“I am not a Roman expert but it is an amazing thought that so much has survived almost two millennia."