Roman settlement at Glasshouse Wood


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Warwick (District Authority)
Warwick (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SP 31181 72033


A Romano-British settlement dating from the C1 to the C4 with later evidence of medieval woodland management and post medieval glass working.

Reasons for Designation

The Romano-British settlement at Glasshouse Wood is scheduled for the following principal reasons: * Survival: a good example of a Romano-British settlement that survives well in the form of earthworks and buried archaeological features; * Potential: limited archaeological investigation has determined that it retains valuable information relating to the development the settlement and this will also facilitate further studies of Romano-British settlement patterns and land use in the area more generally; * National and regional significance: evidence for post medieval glass working from the site will contribute considerably to the study of this industry.


Romano-British villas were extensive rural complexes of domestic, agricultural and occasionally industrial buildings that were constructed throughout the Roman period, from the first to the fourth centuries AD. One of the key criterion of a villa is that it was a rural establishment, independent of larger settlements. They seem to have been a fundamental part of the model of Romanisation, with the spread of a villa-owning elite typically at the centre of an agricultural estate. Villas are often thought of as high-status buildings, with hypocausts, architectural ornamentation and baths as common features. Interestingly though, most excavated sites in Britain appear to have developed from simpler, perhaps ‘lower status’, to ‘higher status’ or more substantial buildings. The term 'villa' is now commonly used to describe either the estate or the buildings themselves.

Villas are found throughout lowland Britain and occasionally beyond. The least elaborate served as simple farmhouses whilst, for the most complex, the term 'palace' is not inappropriate. Most 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. Ancillary buildings may include workshops, storage for agricultural produce and accommodation for farm labourers and were typically arranged around or alongside a courtyard, surrounded by paddocks, pens, yards and features such as granaries, threshing floors, wells and hearths.

Glassmaking in the Middle Ages seems to have been fully established by the end of the C13 when access to most of the raw materials – silica (sand or crushed pebbles) and plant ashes, clay for pots in which to make the glass, and suitable woodland for fuel – was widely available. The era of wood-fired glassmaking in England, from the late C13 to the early C17th, is traditionally divided into two periods, the earliest of which is associated with native English glassmakers and ends at some point in the mid-C16 when the arrival of immigrant glassmakers resulted in the introduction of different techniques and types of glass. The use of wood as a fuel in the industry came to an end in England in 1615, when its alleged scarcity led to a Royal proclamation banning its use, after which glassworks were fuelled by coal. A medieval glassworks was an industrial site where glass was made from raw materials, and where either glass vessels or window glass, or both, were made. The main components of such a site were melting furnaces, annealing kilns, waste tips, and associated structures. Sites exist as earthworks, or with upstanding remains, or as spreads of characteristic material, especially glazed crucible fragments and glazed brick or stone.

The Roman site at Glasshouse Woods was first identified during limited excavation in 1971 undertaken by members of the Coventry and District Archaeological Society on behalf of the Warwickshire Museum in advance of the construction of the Kenilworth bypass road which cuts through the site from north to south.

A further Romano-British site formerly lay some 500m to the north was excavated in advance of the construction of the Kenilworth bypass. This consisted of timber buildings with tiled roofs located within rectangular multi-period enclosure. This site is believed to have been contemporary with and connected to the villa site at Glasshouse Wood.

Glasshouse Wood is believed to take its name from glassworking in the area during the late medieval and post-medieval periods. A glass kiln, owned by John Timms, certainly operated in the late C17/early C18 and is recorded on the Map of Kenilworth Estate of 1692 and subsequently on the Leigh Map of 1766 and an estate map of 1777.


PRINCIPAL ELEMENTS: located on an eastward-facing slope in Avon Valley is the site of a Romano-British villa which occupies a terrace, surviving as a series of buried archaeological remains and associated earthworks. Limited excavation in the 1970s, revealed evidence for a Romano-British settlement from the mid- to late-C1 until the late 3rd/early 4thC,. Evidence of timber structures, which were later replaced by stone buildings was found along with quantities of pottery, tile and a single cremation burial.

The remains of the medieval and post-medieval glassworks are located within the northern western part of Glasshouse Wood and are unexcavated.

DETAILS: from the evidence recovered during excavation on the site, it appears that there were two primary phases of occupation: the earliest represented by timber buildings with tile roofs and associated with domestic pottery and tile of the mid- to late-C1. These timber buildings were replaced in the early C2 by stone buildings, with packed gravel or clay floors and wattle and daub room partitions, arranged around at least two sides of a yard. The site was abandoned in the late C3/early C4. Finds from the excavation included a range of domestic pottery including common grey and black burnished wares along with more prestigious Samian ware. A single cremation burial, accompanied by a denarius (coin) of Nero (68AD) was also discovered. . As the intention of the excavations was to confirm the nature and extent of the archaeological remains in the area, excavation was generally limited to the later phases of occupation.

There are a series of earthworks comprising the remains of banks, ditches and lynchets. Although unexcavated, the lynchets are comparable in form to those found at other Romano-British sites and are believed to be contemporary with the villa. The banks and ditches are also undated but are believed to represent woodland and land boundaries relating to the Roman and medieval occupation and use of the area.

The remains of a medieval and post medieval glassworks also survive within the north western part of Glasshouse Woods. Partial excavation (unpublished) confirmed the presence of evidence for coal-fired glass production in the area. Further evidence is believed to survive as buried features and associated earthworks.


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

Legacy System number:
WA 167
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Willacy, , Wallwork, , 'Exploratory Excavations at a Romano-British site in Glasshouse Wood, Kenilworth, 1971' in Transactions of the Birmingham and Warwickshire Archaeological Society, , Vol. 88, (1976-77), pp. 71-81


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.

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