THE only authentic reconstruction of an ordinary Roman citizen’s home in the UK has been destroyed in an arson attack.

Upton Country Park’s Roman House, visited by thousands of Dorset schoolchildren to learn ancient history over the past 20-years, burnt to the ground on Monday evening, leaving staff heartbroken.

Dorset Police have confirmed they are investigating as a malicious incident the second attack by fire-raisers at the popular park in 16 months. A wooden harbourside bird hide was set ablaze in July 2013.

“Staff at Poole Museum are heartbroken by this thoughtless act, not least because the house has been extensively restored by volunteers over the past few years,” said Michael Spender, museum and arts manager at Borough of Poole.

“We also feel extremely sorry for all the children whose school workshops are going to be affected. We will of course be making alternative arrangements to minimise disruption,” he said.

A member of the on-site security discovered the blaze around 8pm on Monday and called the emergency services. Firefighters from Dorset Fire and Rescue arrived shortly after 8.15pm.

The artisan dwelling was painstakingly built in the 1980s using traditional techniques and materials, offered authentic Roman and Celtic experiences for visitors and was a unique learning resource for schools.

An oak-framed building, its roof was covered with a replica Roman thatch and the walls made from hazel, wattle and daub. The estate is one of the oldest sites in Poole and includes a section of Roman Road between Moriconium (Hamworthy) and Alavna (Corfe Mullen).

The house was visited by 1,100 school children a year and had recently been fully restored.

“The rest of Upton Country park was unaffected by the fire and is open to the public as usual,” said Mr Spender.

“We would urge anyone with any information about the fire at the Roman House to contact Dorset Police on 101,” he added.