Frampton Roman villa


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


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

Dorset (Unitary Authority)
Maiden Newton
National Grid Reference:
SY 61599 95282


Minor Romano-British villa 205m south east of Throop Farm.

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. The least elaborate villas served as simple farmhouses whilst, for the most complex, the term "palace" is not inappropriate. 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. Minor villas are found throughout lowland Britain and occasionally beyond. 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.

Despite partial early excavation the minor Romano-British villa 205m south east of Throop Farm will contain further archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, development, longevity, social, political and economic significance, agricultural practices, trade, industrial activity, domestic arrangements, abandonment and overall landscape context. The mosaic connected with this villa are particularly rare and unusual because they depict by Pagan and early Christian symbols as well as a form of poetry indicating some rudimentary understanding of Latin by the local craftsmen who constructed them.


See Details.


This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 15 December 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.

The monument includes a minor Romano-British villa situated on low lying ground the banks of the River Frome. Known as ‘Frampton’ the villa survives as largely buried deposits, structures and layers with earthwork evidence of a low L-shaped platform of up to 1m high visible as a surface feature. The villa was excavated by Lysons in 1796. It contained at least five tessellated pavements of elaborate design within fine quality rooms leading from two corridors. The most elaborate pavement had a central medallion of a horseman spearing a lioness, with two corner panels depicting scenes from the tale of Venus and Adonis. The whole was surrounded by minor borders in guilloche and a main border of dolphins and cormorants emerging from a mask of Neptune. Neptune’s sea weed beard and hair was further decorated with lobster claws. Surrounding Neptune and a figure of Cupid was an inscription in the form of a poem. Further geometric patterns and floral designs covered the thresholds between the pavements. Another depicted Bacchus riding a leopard and long panels showed hunting scenes. Other further mosaics depicted Mars, Neptune, Apollo, Jupiter and the four winds. A Chi Rho monogram was also set into an apse floor. Mosaics with inscriptions are rare in Romano-British villas. No votive offerings were found, but a shale table leg was recovered. The mosaics were inspected in 1797 by George III. Trial trenches were dug in 1963 but only one wall was located. Other chance finds have included a handled clay lamp, vases with ashes and a fragment of stone column.


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

Legacy System number:
DO 30
Legacy System:


PastScape Monument No:-453174


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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