Roman villa 100m north west of Handley Barns


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1008895

Date first listed: 21-Oct-1968

Date of most recent amendment: 20-Aug-1994


Ordnance survey map of Roman villa 100m north west of Handley Barns
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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This copy shows the entry on 19-Dec-2018 at 15:45:13.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Essex

District: Brentwood (District Authority)

Parish: Ingatestone and Fryerning

National Grid Reference: TL 64606 01722


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

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 important.

The remains of the Roman villa 100m north west of Handley Barns will survive well below the ploughsoil. Field walking and the collection of artefacts from the soil surface has demonstrated the presence of archaeological structures and deposits across the whole of the field between Box Wood and Well Wood. These deposits will contain information about the construction and layout of the villa and its associated buildings, whilst the associated artefactual information and any environmental deposits which survive at the base of the sequence will add to our understanding of the life-style and economy of the inhabitants and of the landscape in which they lived. Such information will add to the understanding of the extent and nature of Roman rural settlement across south east England.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes a Roman villa situated on the south facing slope of a rise in the gently undulating clay hills of south west Essex. A spring rises at the eastern side of the site. The site is known from the surface scatter of artefacts identified through field walking. The villa buildings survive as buried remains with foundations and floor deposits being preserved beneath the ground surface as well as other buried features, including remains of associated farming activity. Concentrations of roof and box flue tile fragments have identified the locations of two of the more important buildings within the villa complex. One lies just beyond the western edge of Well Wood in the centre of the monument while the second lies c.80m to the south. Both the buildings have maximum dimensions of c.30m. The northern building was identified from a dense scatter of tile and pottery while the southern building includes a concentration of red tessarae which have come from a tiled floor or pavement. Surrounding these buildings further Roman material has been recovered scattered across the whole field. Finds recovered from field walking include fragments of Roman roof tile and box flue tile as well as tile and brick wasters, red tesserae, sherds of samian pottery, amphora fragments and a coin dating to the reign of Hadrian (AD 117-138). Excluded from the monument are all fences, fenceposts, telegraph poles and manhole covers, although the ground beneath all of these 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: 24862

Legacy System: RSM


Essex Sites and Monuments Record 660, (1985)
Sellers E, Essex Sites and Monuments Record 660,

End of official listing