Samuel Lysons (1763-1819) was one of the first archaeologists to excavate and study Roman sites in Britain. He was a leading intellectual, Fellow of the Royal Society and was made Professor of Antiquity at the Royal Academy just before his death in 1818. A skilled artist, he exhibited at the Royal Academy and produced numerous illustrations of various antiquities and topographical scenes.
An account of Roman antiquities discovered at Woodchester in the County of Gloucestershire was published in large folio format in 1797 and is lavishly illustrated with handcoloured etching and aquatint views of the village of Woodchester and the mosaic Roman pavement which Lysons found there. Several of these are spread over a double page and the largest are over 50 x 75 cm.
Lysons, whom the Dictionary of National Biography describes as ‘an excitable, vigorous and ambitious man, with a loud voice and a penetrating eye’, initially studied Law but in 1803 was appointed Keeper of the Records at the Tower of London. During his lifetime he published several volumes of work on Roman antiquities in Britain, including his multi-volume Reliquiae Britannico Romanae, of which the Woodchester work was intended by Lysons to form the fourth volume.