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
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Cotswold (District Authority)
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
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
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,
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