Roman villa and section of Roman road south-west of Littlepark Wood

Overview

Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
1001859
Date first listed:
06-Mar-1963
Date of most recent amendment:
26-Mar-2019
Statutory Address:
Nr South Downs College, Crookhorn, Havant, Hampshire, PO7 8AA

Map

Ordnance survey map of Roman villa and section of Roman road south-west of Littlepark Wood
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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Location

Statutory Address:
Nr South Downs College, Crookhorn, Havant, Hampshire, PO7 8AA

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County:
Hampshire
District:
Havant (District Authority)
Parish:
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:
SU6917907192

Summary

A Roman villa estate containing associated buildings, enclosures and track way and a portion of the Chichester (Noviomagnus) to Bitterne (Clausentum) road.

Reasons for Designation

The Roman villa and section of Roman road south-west of Littlepark Wood, Campdown is scheduled for the following principal reasons:

Survival:

* this is an important and well-preserved Roman villa complex and associated Roman road which, as the 2018 evaluation works have confirmed, survives in the form of substantial archaeological remains beneath the present ground surface and is largely unexcavated. A portion of the road also survives as slight earthworks and buried archaeological remains in the form of a metalled surface and associated roadside ditches.

Potential:

* previous limited archaeological investigations, the geophysical survey coupled with the recent evaluation have demonstrated the preservation of the remains which will provide further valuable information about the road and the villa’s phases and methods of construction and the lifestyles of its inhabitants. The presence of potential pre-Roman remains offers the opportunity to study the continuity of settlement in this location and enhances the significance of the monument.

Diversity:

* the site retains a diverse range of features such as the remains of the main villa building, ancillary structures, enclosures, a portion of the Chichester to Bitterne road and indications of rich buried deposits.

Documentation:

* the 2018 evaluation, the geophysical survey, previous excavation and subsequent analyses have secured a good level of archaeological documentation.

Group value:

* the road holds a group value with the unscheduled but known surviving portions of this route. The villa complex has a group value with other unscheduled villas known to exist in the area.

Vulnerability:

* as has been demonstrated with regard to the road, both on site and at the neighbouring college, deep ploughing has the potential to damage or destroy these features. Landscaping and construction activities associated with any potential redevelopment of the land would also cause serious truncation and loss to archaeological structures and deposits.

History

Romano-British villas were extensive rural estates at the focus of which were groups of domestic, agricultural and occasionally industrial buildings. The term ‘villa’ is now commonly used to describe either the estate or the buildings themselves. The buildings usually include a well-appointed dwelling house. Most of the houses were partly or wholly stone-built, many with a timber-framed superstructure on masonry footings. Roofs were generally tiled and the house could feature tiled or mosaic floors, underfloor heating, wall plaster, glazed windows and cellars. Many had integral or separate suites of heated baths. The house was usually accompanied by a range of buildings providing accommodation for farm labourers, workshops and storage for agricultural produce. They were arranged around or alongside a courtyard and were surrounded by a complex of paddocks, pens, yards and features such as vegetable plots, granaries, threshing floors, wells and hearths, all approached by tracks leading from the surrounding fields.

Villa buildings were constructed throughout the period of Roman occupation, from the 1st to the 4th centuries AD. They are usually complex structures occupied over several hundred years and continually remodelled to fit changing circumstances. They could serve a wide variety of uses alongside agricultural activities, including administrative, recreational and craft activities, and this is reflected in the considerable diversity in their plan. Roman villas provide a valuable index of the rate, extent and degree to which native British society became Romanised, as well as indicating the sources of inspiration behind changes of taste and custom. In addition, they serve to illustrate the agrarian and economic history of the Roman province, allowing comparisons over wide areas both within and beyond Britain. As a very diverse and often long-lived type of monument, a significant proportion of the known population are identified as nationally important.

Roman roads were engineered routes designed to be used by wheeled vehicles and to facilitate rapid communication across the empire using messengers on horseback. The earliest roads were built by the army as part of the campaign of conquest between 43 and 81 AD, but the construction of later roads was mainly prompted by civil administration. The construction of Roman roads varied according to ground conditions, availability of materials and the level of traffic that was expected. Most (but not all) were formed from a raised earthen embankment known as an agger formed from material derived from flanking drainage ditches. The agger was then metalled, typically with a covering of larger stones with an upper layer of cobbles or gravel to create a compacted, free-draining road surface. Nationally the average width of the metalled surface was about 6.5m with a depth of 0.5m, but there is considerable variation. Some Roman roads feature kerb stones or a central rib of larger stones, some have one or more ditches or have additional side ditches, some just have a metalled surface without an agger. Roman roads frequently became the focus of settlement, industry and burials. Although their maintenance was generally neglected after the Roman withdrawal in the 5th century, their use persisted so that the courses of many are still used by the modern road network.

The site was partially excavated by George Smith and Lt Col. J H Cooke (a local antiquarian) between January 1st and April 24th 1926, after Mr Smith had discovered wall footings the previous year with Mr G. Gauntlett. Although his work was never published, his notebook recording the findings of the excavation survived. This notebook presents a day by day account of discoveries and observations during the dig (which was undertaken without any regard to stratification) and forms the basis of an assessment of the site undertaken by G Soffe in 1973. Soffe’s assessment was subsequently utilised for a PhD thesis by Jonathan Dicks examining the economic and social status of Romano-British rural villas in southern England (Dicks 2011). The results of these analyses suggests two main phases of activity for the villa, with a structure of about 150-200 AD superseded and overlaid by a new building around the mid-3rd century AD, with a final demolition date of mid-to late 4th century. An associated midden pit was also excavated and the south-western part of the multi-roomed building was found to contain a hypocaust and associated furnace.

A villa and associated tilery were excavated at nearby Crookhorn (SU 6865 0738) between 1974 and 1975 by G. Soffe. The site comprised a long aisled barn which was probably a workshop and home for workers and, along with the tilery, has been dated to between the 2nd and 4th centuries AD. Dicks posits that the close proximity of this site south of Littlepark Wood suggests that the owner of both resided in the latter and acted as a ballif to those occupying and operating the tilery at Crookhorn. It is possible that the poor quality of agricultural land may have encouraged the villa owner to diversify into tile production and manufacture. Indeed rural industrial sites were not uncommon as can be testified by large pottery manufacturing sites such as Alice Holt, New Forest and Rowlands Castle, and it follows that any industrial site would have held some form of hierarchical structure to the workforce. This is somewhat substantiated by the size and range of buildings and associated enclosures evident from the geophysical survey, and by the amount of fine wares recovered from the 1926 excavations when compared to those recovered at neighbouring sites, such as Crookhorn. It has also been proposed that this site's close physical relationship to the Langstone villa suggests it may have been supplying product for export and its location along the major Roman road could have been key to this (Dicks 2007).

A significant number of magnetic anomalies were recorded over the course of the geophysical survey undertaken by Thames Valley Archaeological Services (Beaverstock 2016). The majority of these relate to the Roman villa in the northern part of the field and comprise field boundaries, buried pits, five to six buildings, enclosures of varying sizes (including a probably courtyard or service yard) and a track way that leads to the main road.

An archaeological evaluation undertaken by AOC in September to November 2018 (Mawson 2019) demonstrated the survival of the villa complex and varying elements of the Chichester to Bitterne road. It also revealed previously unknown components to the site, such as the area of burning to the east of the service yard area, an additional building flanking the track way that leads from the main road to the yard area, further structural elements across the complex, and, potentially, an entrance gate way at the road. Several weaker anomalies were observed in the survey, apparently representing enclosures orientated at odds to the structures and enclosures of the villa compound (NW-SE) and could possibly represent the remains of earlier Iron Age/Romano-British activity, although the archaeological evaluation did not locate these. Residual pottery sherds dated to the Mid to Late Iron Age were recovered from early Roman contexts in and around the villa complex, during the 2018 evaluation. Further features and artefacts from this period have been observed at a number of locations within the vicinity of the site including several late Iron Age pottery sherds in an evaluation at Camp Hill and an evaluation and excavation in 2013-14 to the east of the site which found the remains of a small early Iron Age settlement (including two roundhouses, a number of pits, postholes, fence lines and ditches). Pits of this period were also observed during the construction of the A3(M) and South Downs College (McManus-Fry 2016) which lie immediately to the east and the west of the site.

The Roman road traverses the site in a north-west to south-east alignment and lies about 100m to the south of the main part of the villa compound. It forms part of the Chichester (Noviomagnus) to Bitterne (Clausentum) road, listed as Route 421 in Margary. The route in its entirety stretched for 27½ miles and is, in part, visible as light earthworks in the fields south of Littlepark Wood. It has been suggested that this was one of the points of high ground from which the Roman surveyors laid out the road on its route from Havant to Wickham (Margary 1967). The agger is described in this area as ranging between 7.30m to 8.20m. With the main network having been constructed between 43 and 81 AD, it is likely that this represents an earlier work along with many of the south port extension routes. The make-up of the road was first observed by the South Hampshire Archaeological Rescue Group in 1974 when a pipe trench was cut through the course of the road. The metalling was comprised of pebbles on a clay bed and it was recorded as measuring 11m in width with a slight ditch along the northern edge (HANTS HER 39768). In 2004-5 a stretch of the road located to the west in the grounds of the South Downs College was observed during a watching brief and subsequent evaluation undertaken by Southern Archaeological Services (HANTS HER 56908; 56242) and comprised of concentrated flint and tile pressed into natural sandy clay with evidence of substantial truncation from modern deep ploughing activity. Within the subject site itself, a broad strip of weak positive readings were obtained by the geophysical survey undertaken by TVAS (Beaverstock 2016). This clearly shows the north-west to south-east aligned buried remains of the Roman road, a section of which appears to be bordered by stronger linear features to the north and south, indicating the presence of surviving roadside ditches. The 2018 archaeological evaluation showed that the road survives predominately well, with greater areas of truncation occurring towards the west of the site. Archaeologically the road survives as various combinations of a metalled surface with road side ditches, metalled surface with an absence of ditches or the ditches alone.

Although the site is currently utilised only for grazing purposes, it is has a long history as farmland going back several generations. The original scheduling notes indicate that it had been ploughed in the past.

Details

PRINCIPAL ELEMENTS The monument includes a Roman villa complex and associated section of the Chichester to Bitteme Roman road (Route 421 in Margary) centred at SU 69179 07186 on land at approximately 50m AOD bounded by South Downs College to the west, Scratchface Lane to the north and the M3 to the east.

DESCRIPTION The plan of the villa compound is largely derived from the geophysical survey and supporting evidence from the 2018 archaeological evaluation, with only one of the buildings having been subject of an antiquarian excavation in 1926. From these it is possible to discern that the complex comprises at least six or possibly seven masonry structures that represent the main villa building and ancillary structures, workshops, barns and possibly even a bath house or shrine. The northernmost buildings (1) and (2) appear to lie outside the core compound and measure approximately 18.25m (east-west) by 8.35m (north-south) and 20.80m (east-west) by 8.50m (north-south). To the south-west of the former, a small apparently separate structure (3) measuring 9.30m (east-west) by 5.15m (north-south) is also perceptible. The 2018 archaeological evaluation encountered further flint wall foundations, and a surface deposit, to the east and to the south of building (1) at around 49.17m OD and 48.54m OD respectively. Within the north-western corner of the central villa enclosure lays the largest structure (4), L-shaped in plan and stretching over half the length of the western boundary. It measures a maximum of about 35.80m (north-south) and 21.70m (east-west). To the south of the central compound is a smaller L-shaped building (5) measuring 28.90m (east-west) by 11.65m (north-south) although further features identified by geophysics immediately to the north and west indicate that it may extend to the south-west corner and join with the larger structure (4).

The courtyard/service yard area itself, bounded by buildings to the east and south and linear features (comprising a mixture of walls, fence lines or enclosure ditches) to the north and west, measures approximately 50.40m (north-south) by 62.70m (east-west). There are indications of an entrance towards the centre of the eastern boundary. Evidence of burning activity within the courtyard/service yard was identified during the 2018 evaluation. This comprises of two distinct dark spreads containing ceramic building material (CBM) fragments and charcoal at around 49.80m OD. This is in turn cut by a deposit which may have formed a clay lining. Additionally, a wall (with buttress) composed of flint drystone is located towards the south-eastern corner of the yard area at 49.81m OD. Further east, a second foundation is also present at 49.72m OD, along with a ditch and surface make up representing either the yard, a path or track way. Two further potential flint foundations are located to outside the south-eastern corner of the yard at 50.24m OD and 50.46m OD. The track way, located at the western end of the yard and represented on the geophysical survey as a pair of parallel linear features, runs almost north-south leading northwards from the road towards the villa, measuring around 120m in total. South of the enclosed yard, flanking the western side of the track way the archaeological evaluation identified a further building (6), in the form of a loose flint wall foundation composed of flint nodules set in a dark brown-grey clayey sandy silt matrix, partially robbed. The foundation, located at 51.12m OD, features a sandstone threshold positioned at a right angle. To the south of the building a series of linear features appear to form a rectangular enclosure to the west of the track way and immediately north of the road. This measures 20m east-west by 33m north-south and comprises ditches with adjacent post holes indicating a fence line. To the west of the enclosure is a small masonry structure. Like those within the yard to the north, this building (7) also appears to form an L-shape measuring 12.40m (east-west) by 16.35m (north-south). The walls, seen in the evaluation between 52.92m OD and 53.64m OD, comprised flint nodules and CBM and were flanked by a demolition layer. Another rectangular enclosure is apparent to the east of the track way. Archaeological investigations have revealed the presence of a masonry structure positioned at 50.41m OD between the two enclosures where the track way meets the Chichester to Bitteme road, which may represent a formal entrance with gate house or simply a walled entrance. The eastern limit of the villa complex is delineated by a generally north-south orientated ditch, turning north-east at the northern end.

Some 4m to the south of the villa complex, a broad strip of weak positive geophysical readings aligned west-north-west to east-south-east represents the surviving buried remains of the road. A section of this is bordered by features representing the roadside ditches, stretching for approximately 60m on the northern side and 38.15m on the south. The road survives to varying degrees along its length comprising various combinations of a metalled surface with road side ditches close to the entrance to the villa complex, the metalled surface with an absence of ditches to the east and to the west only the ditches appear to remain. The metalled surface survives between 44.37m OD and 45.39m OD towards the east and 47.90m OD and 48.91m OD closer to the entrance to the villa complex. The ditches have been observed at heights of 42.68-93m OD to the east of the entrance and 50.12-51.61m OD towards the west. The road also survives partially above ground in the form of light earthworks to the western edge of the site, where it meets the south-eastern corner of land occupied by the South Downs College. The earthworks, where perceptible, extend approximately 60m (north-west to south-east) with the agger measuring around 12-16m in width.

The excavations undertaken by Smith and Cooke appeared to relate to building (4) and revealed at least two phases of activity (Dicks 2011). The first period has been dated to about 150-200 AD, on the basis of samian pottery recovered from an associated midden. There was little evidence of the construction of this phase of the villa as its remains comprised solely of foundations of mortared flint set into chalk blocks. The second phase consisted of a series of rooms connected by a portico facing south, looking out over Langstone Harbour. The foundations comprised mortared flints with the presence of tegulae and imbrices suggesting a tiled roof adorned the building. Painted wall plaster was recovered from the excavations indicating that the walls were decorated and one room contained a tessellated floor. There was some evidence of a hypocaust to provide under floor heating. Coins of Tetricus (271-4 AD) and Claudius II (268-70 AD) recovered from associated middens suggest a mid-third century AD construction date for the second period villa. A notable amount of the pottery recovered from the excavation comprised of fine samian wares, with a broad range of forms from simple cups to hemispherical bowls with at least two different types of mortaria. This suggests that the occupants in the early second to mid third centuries could afford imported, high status pottery. A lack of Romano-British fine wares dating from the middle fourth century could signify a decline in affluence for the occupants at this time and indicates a final demolition of mid-late fourth century. The 2018 archaeological evaluation confirmed multi-phases of activity, with a majority of the pottery recovered dating to the 3rd century AD. The volume of mosaic tesserae, floor tiles and imbrex roof tiles suggest substantial and wealthy structures were present within the complex, with some indication for the presence of a bath house.

EXTENT OF SCHEDULING The scheduling boundary around the Roman villa and section of Roman road south-west of Littlepark Wood, Campdown includes a 5m margin for the support and protection of the monument and incorporates land between the core features of the villa compound and a sample section of road where buried archaeological deposits associated with the site are known to be preserved. The boundary of the monument respects the limit of villa, its associated features and the road as shown in the geophysical survey and archaeological evaluation.

EXCLUSIONS All modern fences, fence posts and telegraph poles are excluded from the scheduling but the land beneath them is included.

Legacy

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
HA 328
Legacy System:
RSM - OCN

Sources

Books and journals
Margary, I D, Roman Roads in Britain, (1973)
Dicks, J, 'Villas in East Hampshire and West Sussex: A Study of their Pottery Assemblages and Settlement Pattern' in Proceedings of the Hampshire Field Club Archaeological Society , , Vol. 62, (2007), xx
Other
Beaverstock, K. 2016 Land at College Road, Campdown, Purbrook, Portsmouth, Hampshire: Geophysical Survey (Magnetic), Thames Valley Archaeological Services Ltd.
Dicks, J. 2011 The Economic and Social Status of Romano-British Rural Villas in Southern England, University of Southampton, Faculty of Archaeology, PhD Thesis.
Hampshire HER records: 29768, 56242 and 56908
Mawson, K. 2019. Land at Campdown, Havant, Hampshire: An Archaeological Interim Evaluation Report. AOC. London.
McManus-Fry, E. 2016. Land at College Road, Campdown, Purbrook, Portsmouth, Hampshire: Archaeological Desk-Based Assessment, Thames Valley Archaeological Services Ltd.

Legal

This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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