Hales Roman Villa
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1003652
Date first listed: 22-Oct-1968
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Newcastle-under-Lyme (District Authority)
National Grid Reference: SJ 72227 33716
Roman villa with traces of earlier settlement and prehistoric burial site, 350m east of Home Farm.
Reasons for Designation
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, 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, 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. 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. The majority of these are classified as `minor' villas to distinguish them from `major' 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, many are identified as nationally important. The Roman villa with traces of earlier settlement and prehistoric burial site 350m east of Home Farm survives as buried structures and archaeological and environmental deposits which will provide evidence of significant social, cultural and developmental changes from the late prehistoric period to the fourth century AD. The interrelationship of the villa complex with the pre-existing settlement and burial site is of particular interest to questions surrounding changes of custom and integration into the native British society.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 3 July 2015. The 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 Romano-British villa on the site of earlier settlement and a prehistoric burial site. The Romano-British villa is situated on a south facing slope with natural springs and a stream to the east running down to Coal Brook 1km to the south west. The site was excavated in the 1920s, 1960s and 1970s and has revealed part of the buried remains of a Roman villa and its associated bath house. The remains indicate that they are part of a Roman villa complex aligned NNW-SSE. The excavations have revealed substantial stone built walls surviving up to four courses high with rooms accessed via a corridor. There is evidence for earlier rectangular timber structures built along the same alignment as the villa indicating an earlier timber building. The western wall was built over a well, and pottery from its infilling indicates a late first to mid second century construction date. To the south east are the remains of a stone built bath house dating to the early second century, with an extension to the east in the third century, and later modifications in the fourth century suggesting a change of use into domestic accommodation.
Excavations have also revealed the site to have been built over an earlier settlement including traces of wattle and daub round houses and prehistoric burial cists containing evidence of cremation burials.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: ST 164
Legacy System: RSM - OCN
Pastscape: 74380, HER: DST5844 & NMR: SJ73SW1
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