Minor Romano-British villa, moat and associated medieval manorial and village earthworks, including six fishponds


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Rushcliffe (District Authority)
Car Colston
National Grid Reference:
SK 71880 42197

Reasons for Designation

The village, comprising a small group of houses, gardens, yards, streets, paddocks, often with a green, a manor and a church, and with a community primarily devoted to farming, was a significant component of the rural landscape in most areas of medieval England, much as it is today. Villages provided some services to the local community as well as acting as the focus of ecclesiastical, and often manorial, authority within each medieval parish. Although the sites of many of these villages have been occupied continuously down to the present day, many have declined considerably in size and are now occupied by farmsteads or hamlets. This decline may have taken place gradually throughout the lifetime of the village or more rapidly, particularly during the 14th and 15th centuries when many other villages were wholly deserted. The reasons for diminishing size were varied but often reflected declining economic viability or population fluctuations as a result of widespread epidemics such as the Black Death. As a consequence of their decline, large parts of these villages are frequently undisturbed by later occupation and contain well-preserved archaeological deposits. Over 3000 shrunken medieval villages are recorded nationally. Because they are a common and long-lived monument type in most parts of England, they provide important information on the diversity of medieval settlement patterns and farming economy between the regions and through time.

The shrunken village remains at Car Colston are a well-preserved example and illustrate well the diversity of the component features of this class of monument, including as they do such elements as a moated manor house, fishponds, a town ring, a millpond and leat, ridge and furrow and a postmill mound in addition to the sites of peasant dwellings and other buildings and a number of deserted crofts. The minor Romano-British villa remains also survive well. 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 round 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 century AD. They were 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. Villa owners tended to be drawn from the elite of Romano-British society but, although some belonged to immigrant Roman officials and entrepreneurs, most seem to have been occupied by wealthy natives with a more or less Romanised lifestyle and to have been built directly on the site of Iron Age farmsteads. They provide a valuable index of the rate, extent and degree to which native British society became Romanised and serve to illustrate the agrarian and economic history of the Roman province.


This monument at Car Colston is a complex multi-period site which includes the site of a minor Romano-British villa, a moat, six fishponds, ridge and furrow, a postmill mound, a leat, a boundary bank and ditch, part of the earthwork remains of the shrunken or shifted medieval village, a millpond and a hollow way. Additional village earthworks survive elsewhere in Car Colston but have not been included in the scheduling as they are separated from it by modern development. Not included, except where they encroach on the area of the scheduling, are a number of ditch-like features extending from the modern field boundary along the south-east side of the monument. It is not known precisely how these relate to the Roman and later remains but, as examples overlie part of the medieval ridge and furrow, it is assumed they are relatively recent in origin. The moat, which occupies the west corner of the monument, surrounds two islands, each island measuring c.20m square. The moat is on average c.9m wide and between 1m and 2m deep except on the south side where is is 10m wide and over 2m deep. There is no moat along the north side of the easternmost island. Also, the moat along the east side, whilst up to 2.5m deep at its south end, levels out to ground level at its north end. This indicates that access to the moated site would have been from this side and that this part of the moat may originally have been fenced. Slight earthworks in the ditch between the two islands appear to be grassed over spoil and possibly originate from an unrecorded excavation. The moat round the south side of the site is revetted on the outside by a bank measuring c.5m wide by 0.75m high. To the west it merges with a second bank which extends along the west side of the moat and continues southward to form the east side of a linear fishpond varying between 10m and 20m wide and 100m long. Alongside the moat it also forms the east side of a second fishpond measuring 20m wide. The original length of this pond is uncertain as it has been truncated to the north by features belonging to the modern farm. The west side of both ponds is formed by another continuous bank and the two are divided by a transverse bank broken at the south-west corner by a sluice. Additional sluices on either side of the transverse bank also join both fishponds to the moat. A third fishpond exists 25m to the south and is similar to the first in that it is a long, linear embanked feature. However, its original dimensions are uncertain because, to the west and south, it has been disturbed by modern land use. It was, however, at least 100m long and extended into the modern ploughed field to the south-east. Roughly 10m to the east are the remains of a fourth fishpond. Only the north end of this pond survives as a sunken feature measuring 9m wide by 10m long. The remaining two fishponds are associated with the junction of the south and east arms of the moat and are much smaller than the ponds to the west. The first is east of the junction and measures c.6m by 8m. The second, which is a sub-rectangular embanked feature c.2m deep, is linked to the moat by a 10m long channel and measures c.10m by 13m. Extending eastwards from these two ponds is a pronounced headland which forms the southern limit of a block of plough ridges left by medieval ridge and furrow ploughing. There are six ridges in the block, each c.6m wide and orientated roughly north to south. Running parallel along the east side is a well-defined leat or water course measuring c.10m wide by 1m-1.5m deep. This leat is 270m long and was originally fed by a stream flowing north of the monument. It extends for a further 70m beyond the end of the ridge and furrow and empties into a roughly triangular pond which measures between 20m and 30m per side and is c.2.5m deep. At the junction of the headland and the leat is a roughly circular mound with a diameter of 7m and a height of a little over 1m. This feature has been interpreted as a postmill mound. However, as it has clearly been used to mark the limit of ploughing, it may be a much earlier feature such as a Bronze Age bowl barrow which was re-used during the Middle Ages. East of the mound and leat, there is a second block of ridge and furrow which extends further southwards than the first block, ending on a headland just north of the triangular pond. This pond is interpreted as the site of a manorial watermill since it is too distant from the village earthworks to be considered a village pond and rather closer to the moated manor and its associated fishponds. In addition to the leat which approaches from the north and was the mill race, it is entered by two less substantial ditches: one from the west which connects it to the fishponds and one from the east which flanks a boundary bank that extends from the pond into the adjacent field. There may also have been a boundary bank alongside the ditch to the west at one time, but this ditch is overlain with a ridge and furrow which post-dates it and may have ploughed such a feature away. The boundary bank, which is quite distinct from the ridge and furrow headland north of it, extends eastwards for 130m then turns at right-angles northwards delimiting the ridge and furrow. The ridge and furrow thus enclosed overlies and therefore post-dates a complex of indeterminate earthworks which may be associated with the medieval village or possibly with the villa site which lies to the north-east. The bank extends northwards for 60m then ends at a cluster of earthworks which have the appearance of building platforms disturbed by later ploughing. A second boundary bank and ditch approaches these earthworks from the east and turns at right-angles southwards before it reaches them. In this way, a 10m wide corridor is formed between the north- south sections of each bank and this acts as a gateway between the area north of the boundary, which contains the earthwork remains of the medieval village, and the area to the south which was part of its open field system. A further block of ridge and furrow lies south-east of the boundary, ending on a headland and flanked on its west side by a sunken track or hollow way which approaches from the south and passes through the corridor into the village. This type of medieval earthwork boundary, extending round the limits of a village, is sometimes known as a town ring. Though it now ends on the modern field boundary along the north-east edge of the monument, its former extent is preserved in the hedgeline along the backs of enclosures south of Car Colston green. The village earthworks preserved within the town ring, and on its north side, include numerous small enclosures, building platforms and sunken floors, and, along the north side of the monument, bordering the green, three parallel banked enclosures which represent the crofts or burgage plots of individual homesteads. These contain faint traces of tofts or house sites and are bordered, along the south side, by a hollow way representing a back lane behind the village. Faint ridge and furrow partially overlies the crofts and hollow way, implying that this part of the settlement may have been abandoned in the late medieval or early post-medieval period. Another complex of well- preserved building platforms lies just within the town ring in the eastern part of the monument and is the site of a close-knit group of Roman remains. These include two distinct buildings arranged round two sides of a courtyard. One building covers an area measuring 22m x 23m and includes three separate rooms divided by robbed wall trenches. Orientated north to south, it is set c.10m west of the second building which is orientated east to west. The second building is also made up of individual rooms divided by robbed out walls and from its layout, has been identified as a Romano-British villa of the 'winged corridor' type. It has a rectangular plan, the north half consisting of a line of four rooms of which three measure 4m x 6m and the fourth 6m square, flanked to the east by a larger room measuring 15m x 2.5m and are interpreted as private rooms, while the larger room will have been the dining room; traditionally the best room in a Roman house. East of the corridor are two reception rooms, each measuring 6m square and with a threshold apparent between the westernmost and the corridor. Outer walls can be traced south of the corridor and north of the bedrooms, and also encircling the north-east corner of the dining room. The building range to the west, if it is contemporary with the villa, will have housed ancillary features such as kitchens or possibly a bath suite. A number of features within the area are excluded from the scheduling; these are all modern field boundaries such as post-and-wire or timber fencing, all gates and stiles through and over these boundaries, a water trough and the surface of the concrete platform on which it stands, and the supporting wires of a telegraph pole which fall within the area north of the moat; the ground beneath all these features is, however, 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:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County of Nottinghamshire: Volume I, (1906), 309,312
Todd, M, The Coritani, (1974), 77
'Transactions of the Thoroton Society' in Transactions of the Thoroton Society: Volume 74, (1970), 63-4
'Transactions of the Thoroton Society' in Transactions of the Thoroton Society: Volume 74, (1970), 65
'Transactions of the Thoroton Society' in Transactions of the Thoroton Society: Volume 81, , Vol. 81, (1977), 78-81
Todd, M, 'Transactions of the Thoroton Society' in The Roman Settlement at Margidunum, , Vol. 73, (1969), 72
541/516 4127-8, RAF, 541/516 4127-8,
Bishop, Mike, (1992)
Series 56, Pickering, J, Series 56 (1963), (1963)
SF 947-33, 948-28-31,33,34, Pickering J, SF 947-33, 948-28-31,33,34,
SF 948-28,29,34, Pickering J, SF 948-28,29,34,
Title: Tithe Award Source Date: 1843 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:


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

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