Roman villa at East Grimstead


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1005650

Date first listed: 20-Apr-1949


Ordnance survey map of Roman villa at East Grimstead
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Grimstead

District: Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: West Dean

National Grid Reference: SU 23378 27448


Minor Romano-British villa 895m ESE of Manor Farm.

Reasons for Designation

Romano-British villas were extensive rural estates with groups of domestic, agricultural and occasionally industrial buildings at their 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. Although much is already known about the minor Romano-British villa 895m ESE of Manor Farm it will retain 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.


This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 1 July 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. As such they do not yet have the full descriptions of their modernised counterparts available. Please contact us if you would like further information.

This monument includes a minor Romano-British villa situated on the gently sloping north valley side of the River Dun. The villa survives as largely buried structures, layers and deposits with the slightest of visible surface undulations. It was first discovered in 1914 and excavated from then until 1924 by Heywood Sumner. The northern range of buildings and the central rectangular courtyard were recovered with three rooms on the western range and a bath house to the south east which were either from an aisled house or corridor style villa. Two further separate bath houses were also located to the north and south east. Many finds were discovered which included building materials, glass from vessels, worked animal bone (a gaming counter was a particularly fine example), antler and animal bone, shale bracelets and large quantities of pottery including coarse wares, local New Forest ware, red rosette stamped ware, Samian and imitation Samian which all had a date range from the 3rd to late 4th centuries. A possible centurial stone was also discovered.


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

Legacy System number: WI 292

Legacy System: RSM - OCN


PastScape 223061
Wiltshire HER SU22NW301

End of official listing