The Cotterstock villa was discovered in summer 1736 when tesserae from a large mozaic pavement were uncovered during ploughing, whereupon the lord of the manor undertook the task of exposing a large geometrically patterned mosaic pavement, extracting part of it to lay down in his summer-house. Another mozaic was uncovered close by in 1798.
The villa was relocated by aerial photography during the extremely dry Summer of 1976, when parch marks of buried walls were recorded spread across three fields (at N.G.Ref. TL 0326 9107) over 550 yards (500m) away from the position recorded on the Ordnance Survey maps of the time (TL 0334 9053).
The fields which contain the building-platform of the villa are under permanent pasture, but the arable field to the immediate west was field-walked in Autumn 1989. This survey was designed to ascertain whether the buildings shown on A.P.'s extended to the west of the building platform. To facilitate data collection the field was divided into 20m squares and the total number of potsherds within each square plotted on a distribution-map. This technique revealed a "potential" extension of the villa beyond the building platform to the west, probably of timber structures as little surface stone was recorded.
"A resistivity survey undertaken by Adrian Challands, designed to accurately locate and amplify the aerial photographic information, was carried out over a total of ten days in 1992 and 1993. A total of 19,140 soil resistance values was recorded at one metre intervals within a grid composed of 20 metre squares." (Upex 2001; p.67)
Two robbed-out walls which did not appear on either the aerial or geophysical surveys were revealed by subsequent excavation. This proves that non-invasive methods, although useful, can only give archaeologists part of the overall picture.