Roman villa on Warren Down
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1005808
Date first listed: 19-Jan-1977
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
County: West Sussex
District: Chichester (District Authority)
Parish: West Dean
National Park: SOUTH DOWNS
National Grid Reference: SU 84137 13634
Roman villa, 640m WNW of Lodge Hill Farmhouse.
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 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 and are usually complex structures occupied over several hundred years and continually remodelled to fit changing circumstances. 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.
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 to distinguish them from ‘major’ 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. As a very diverse and often long-lived type of monument, a significant proportion of the known population are identified as nationally important.
The Roman villa, 640m WNW of Lodge Hill Farmhouse survives well and has been shown by partial excavation to contain archaeological information and environmental evidence relating to the villa andthe landscape in which it was constructed. The association of the villa with other Romano-British sites nearby, such as the Roman villa 1.4km SSW (referred to as Chilgrove I), the Chichester (Noviomagus Regnensium) to Silchester (Calleva Atrebatum) Roman Road and regular aggregate field system, will provide information on the Romano-British economy and management of the landscape in this part of West Sussex.
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 Roman villa, known as ‘Chilgrove II’, surviving as below-ground archaeological remains. It is situated on a south-east facing slope on Warren Down, south-east of Chilgrove.
The villa had several phases of Roman occupation. The earliest involved the construction of two timber buildings surrounded by a ditched enclosure in about the 2nd century AD. One of the buildings was subsequently rebuilt with five rooms and a corridor on the east side. An aisled barn containing a corn drying oven was added to the north. In the about late 3rd or early 4th century, the main building was rebuilt with flint walls on a larger plan. The ditched enclosure was replaced by a stockyard wall. In the mid 4th century the barn was replaced by a larger building and a new wing and bath suite were added to the villa, the rooms of which were laid with tessellated floors including a mosaic. The whole complex may have spanned an area of at least 180m by 200m. In about the late 4th century the barn was destroyed by fire and makeshift repairs were carried out on the site, which was occupied into the 5th century AD. A well preserved well and a number of hearths and ovens, including a circular tiled structure that is probably a large bread oven, have been identified on the site.
Partial excavation was carried out on the site between 1964 and 1970 following the recovery of surface traces of Roman material.The excavated remains of the villa were back-filled following the excavation.
The course of the Roman road connecting Chichester (Noviomagus Regnensium) and Silchester (Calleva Atrebatum) is thought to run about 190m to the east. There is another minor Roman villa (referred to as Chilgrove I), which is a scheduled monument, about 1.4km SSW. A regular aggregate field system was identified on aerial photographs south of the villa in the mid 20th century.
Further archaeological remains survive in the vicinity of this monument. Some such as a nearby Cross Dyke are scheduled but others are not because they have not been formally assessed.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: WS 445
Legacy System: RSM - OCN
West Sussex HER 973 - MWS5389. NMR SU81SW60, LINEAR 589, SU81SW50. PastScape 246691, 1325659, 246643.,
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