Roman villa 200m north of church
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1007466
Date first listed: 23-Feb-1989
Date of most recent amendment: 11-Oct-1995
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Tonbridge and Malling (District Authority)
National Park: N/A
National Grid Reference: TQ 70752 62014
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. 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 to
distinguish them from `major' villas. The latter were a very small group of
extremely substantial and opulent villas built by the very wealthiest members
of Romano-British society. 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
Despite damage caused by industrial development, the Roman villa 200m north of the church at Snodland survives comparatively well. Partial excavation has demonstrated the survival of remains of both the main villa building as well as ancillary buildings and other associated archaeological remains and environmental evidence. It is one of a group of Kent villas which overlie Iron Age predecessors and which developed early in the Roman period. The site can therefore give an insight into the development of rural estates from the Iron Age into the Roman period.
The monument includes a Roman villa and associated remains situated on the
west bank of the River Medway.
The villa includes a number of buildings which survive as buried foundations
and other below ground features. These include the main villa building which
comprises at least three ranges set around a central courtyard and is aligned
north east to south west. Remains of the bath house and a free-standing aisled
hall have also been identified.
The north west facing range of the main villa building includes two square
rooms with massive foundations linked by three parallel walls. The south
western range has a series of narrow rooms terminating in an open fronted shed
or lean-to, while the north eastern range includes a small bath building.
To the south and west of the south western range is a chalk rubble surface,
while further south of this are the foundations of an ancillary building. This
takes the form of an aisled hall which may have served as accommodation for
The site was first noted in 1844 and various materials and artefacts have been
recovered over the years, including several stone coffins in 1933-35. The site
was then partially excavated in the 1960s and 1980s when the plan of the main
part of the villa buildings was revealed. The site is believed to have its
origins in the Late Iron Age and was occupied until the fourth century AD.
Excluded from the scheduling are all structures and buildings constructed in
this area, although the ground beneath them is included.
MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: 23031
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
Harrison, A C, 'Kent Archaeological Society Newsletter' in Romano-British Buildings in Snodland, , Vol. 3, (1983), 6
Harrison, A C, 'Kent Archaeological Society Newsletter' in Romano-British Buildings In Snodland, , Vol. 9, (1985), 4
Ocock, M A, Syddell, M J E, 'Archaeologia Cantiana' in The Romano-British Buildings in Church Field, Snodland, , Vol. 82, (1967), 192-217
Heaton, M, (1992)
Trow, S D, Romano-British villa buildings, Snodland SM10500 documentation, (1989)
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