Romano-British villa 350m south east of Abbotswood


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1009163

Date first listed: 07-May-1948

Date of most recent amendment: 09-Aug-1994


Ordnance survey map of Romano-British villa 350m south east of Abbotswood
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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This copy shows the entry on 16-Feb-2019 at 02:55:09.


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

County: Gloucestershire

District: Cotswold (District Authority)

Parish: Swell

National Grid Reference: SP 18491 26259

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 Romano-British villa 350m south east of Abbotswood survives well and is known from partial excavation to contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to the monument and the landscape in which it was constructed.

This monument forms part of a wider group of similar monuments known from the Cotswold Hills and together these will provide a detailed insight into the nature of the economy and structure of society within the area during the Roman period.


The monument includes a Romano-British villa situated on a south-facing slope overlooking a river valley, 350m south east of Abbotswood, in an area of the Cotswold Hills. The villa, which includes a main building and a series of outbuildings and yards, was discovered in 1862 during digging for building stone. Subsequent excavations of the main building in the same year revealed a range of three rooms, orientated north-south with dimensions of 7.3m in width and 7.6m, 9.7m and 13.7m in length respectively. The southern room was flanked by a stone pitched corridor to the west and a passage also extended into the north of the northern room. The southern room contained traces of a stone pitched floor. There is also mention of a hypocaust. The walls of these features are now visible as a series of ridges 2m-3m wide and c.0.25m-0.35m high, indicating their survival as buried remains. The excavations also identified further building debris around the periphery demonstrating more extensive remains. Extensions to the walls of the structure and additional rectangular structures or yards are visible on aerial photographs, although these features cannot be easily traced on the ground. There are known to be stone foundations of a circular structure 9m in diameter and traces of a wall 35m long approximately 40m south of the main building. These features lie below a terrace in the slope of the hill marked by a scarp c.2m high and are likely to represent outbuildings of the main villa. There are also references to additional structures further to the south and west, though these have not been accurately recorded and do not form part of the scheduling. Finds from the site include first and second century AD samian ware, colour coated pottery, an iron hook knife, roof tiles and flue tiles. Excluded from the scheduling are all fence posts relating to the field boundaries, although the ground beneath 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: 22912

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Royal Commission on Historical Monuments, , Iron Age and Roman Monuments in the Gloucestershire Cotswolds, (1976), 116
Date of excavations,
Detail of more extensive remains,
Details of aerial photographs,
Details of circular structure,
Details of finds,
Details of size of rooms,
Details of wall south of villa range,

End of official listing