Retired Army Captain John Thorp had long suspected that there was a significant Roman building somewhere on the land near Brading. For many years he had been finding broken pieces of Roman pottery and tile. He had yet to discover exactly where they came from until the day Farmer Munns arrived to tell him he had found something whilst digging for a sheep pen.
Between them both they unearthed the Bacchus mosaic and were the first people to see the Cockerel headed man in nearly 1,500 years. Lady Oglander of Nunwell offered to purchase the land belonging to the Munns and soon afterwards archaeologists John E. Price and F.G. Hilton Price were asked to continue excavations and the remaining villa complex was uncovered.
Many people have been to visit the villa since its discovery, most famously Princess Beatrice, Queen Victoria’s daughter and Governor of the Isle of Wight and William Darwin, Charles Darwin’s son, who was asked to study the roman remains for research included in Charles Darwin’s last book The Formation of Vegetable Mould through the Action of Worms.