The first Roman built villa at Brading dates from the middle of the 1st century and over the next hundred years, it grew into a large and impressive stone -built villa. Its luxurious rooms contained many fine mosaics. Despite a disastrous fire in the 3rd century AD, the villa was still used for farming purposes for another 100 years.
Around AD340, Brading Villa, like many estates in southern Britain, suffered frequent pirate raids but Roman coins excavated at the site indicate it was still occupied until AD395, when Emperor Honorius began his reign. Thereafter it was used for storing grain before finally collapsing in the 5th century. Undergrowth covered the site, and when the land was cleared for farming, the Villa’s location had been forgotten.
In 1879, a farmer struck a buried mosaic floor while making holes on his land for fence posts and by spring 1880, half the villa had been excavated. The site past to a charitable trust in 1994 and was upgraded with a visitor centre, exhibition, shop and cafe.
The villa's excavated remains are now undercover in an impressive Exhibition and Visitor Centre. The ground floor's 12 rooms can all be seen although it is not clear what they were used for. The largest room with its beautiful mosaic floor may have been for special occasions and to entertain guests. As there is no evidence of an indoor kitchen, food may have been prepared outside to reduce the risk of fire. Artefacts found within the villa point to a high standard of living; Samian pottery, jewelry and games have all been found.