Romano-British villa, Downes, near Crediton
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1002668
Date first listed: 22-Nov-1988
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Mid Devon (District Authority)
Parish: Crediton Hamlets
National Grid Reference: SX 85037 99198
A minor Romano British villa and enclosure 215m east of Kersford Weir.
Reasons for Designation
Romano-British villas were extensive rural estates with groups of domestic, agricultural and occasionally industrial buildings at the focus. 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, the design of which varies considerably according to the needs, taste and prosperity of the occupier. 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, under floor 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. These 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 first to the fourth 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 functions, and this is reflected in the considerable diversity in their plan. Villa owners tended to be drawn from a limited elite section of Romano-British society. Although some villas belonged to immigrant Roman officials or entrepreneurs, the majority seem to have been in the hands of wealthy natives with a more-or-less Romanised lifestyle, and some were built directly on the sites of Iron Age farmsteads. Roman villa buildings are widespread, with between 400 and 1000 examples recorded nationally. The majority of these are classified as `minor' villas. 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. Despite some disturbance by cultivation the minor Romano British villa and enclosure 215m east of Kersford Weir survives comparatively well and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, development, use, social organisation and administration, farming practices, trade, longevity and overall landscape context.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 18 November 2015. This record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.
This monument includes a minor Romano British villa and its associated enclosure situated on the flood plain of the River Yeo close to its confluence with the River Creedy. The villa and its enclosure survive as entirely buried features visible on aerial photographs. The evidence suggests a masonry built villa building consisting of a simple front corridor orientated east to west with three principal rooms behind, a pair of projecting wing rooms flanking the corridor and a central front porch. Additional rooms adjoin the main structure to the west and north east and some of these may represent a bath house. Limited partial excavation has indicated the survival of several floor levels and suggests a 4th century AD occupation. A rectangular enclosure surrounds the villa building and in part at least appears to take the form of a stone wall and is in part bivallate.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: DV 1032
Legacy System: RSM - OCN
PastScape Monument No:-918313
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