A Romano-British villa at Boxted


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1009022

Date first listed: 26-Aug-1994


Ordnance survey map of A Romano-British villa at Boxted
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Kent

District: Swale (District Authority)

Parish: Lower Halstow

County: Kent

District: Swale (District Authority)

Parish: Upchurch

National Grid Reference: TQ 85459 66289


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.

Despite some disturbance caused by past ploughing and clay digging, the Romano-British villa at Boxted survives comparatively well and has been shown by partial excavation to contain archaeological remains and environmental evidence relating to the monument and the landscape in which it was constructed. Around 260m to the south west of the villa are the remains of a Romano-Celtic temple. These monuments are broadly contemporary and their close association will provide evidence for the relationship between social, economic and religious practices during the period of their construction and use.


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


The monument includes the remains of a minor Romano-British villa situated on the southern edge of the north Kent marshes, on the southern bank of the River Thames, around 2km south of the present course of the river. The villa is located on the western slope of a low, clay valley 4.3km to the north of the course of Watling Street, the major Roman road which ran from London (Londinium) to Canterbury (Cantiacorum). The known, buried remains of the villa, partially visible as a crop mark on air photographs, and recorded from partial excavations, represent a NNE-SSW orientated, south east facing, rectangular building 65m long and 15m wide, with projecting wings at either end. The main range is flanked on either side by corridors which give access to the rooms within. The foundation walls are constructed of flint, ragstone and tufa blocks set in mortar, and are c.0.6m wide. A further range of buildings associated with the villa is known to exist around 54m to the east of its northern wing, and c.27m to the south west is a well 3.6m deep. The villa was partially excavated in 1882, when it was disturbed during clay digging by local brick-makers. At least two rooms were discovered to have been floored with tessellated pavements, and their walls faced with painted plaster. Numerous finds included pottery sherds, coins, a bronze ring and hairpin found in the fill of the well, and a cheese press, which is now in the British Museum.

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: 25462

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Payne, G, 'Archaeologia Cantiana' in Discovery of Foundations of Roman Buildings & other Remains etc, , Vol. 15, (1883), 104-107
MOD, 2146 58/4626, (1961)
Parish notes on church history, Davis, R, Lower Halstow Village Church, (1993)

End of official listing