Beadlam minor Romano-British villa


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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Date first listed:
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Ordnance survey map of Beadlam minor Romano-British villa
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

North Yorkshire
Ryedale (District Authority)
North Yorkshire
Ryedale (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SE 63382 84074

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 minor Romano-British villa at Beadlam is a well-preserved example whose buried deposits survive largely intact having been only minimally disturbed by excavation and past agricultural practice.


Beadlam Roman villa is situated on the east bank of the River Riccal east of Helmsley. The monument includes the remains of the villa complex of a relatively large Romano-British farm, a small part of which has been partially excavated and found to date to the third and fourth centuries AD. Earthworks which formerly indicated the positions of other buildings and features were ploughed out in the 1960s, but aerial photographs show that these features still survive below ground in the area surrounding the excavated portion. The first exploration of the site was in 1928 when an earthwork was partially excavated and Romano-British tile and pot were found in addition to a number of tesserae (the small tiles used in mosaics). No detailed records were made of this excavation, however, and it is not certain from which part of the villa complex the finds were recovered. Excavations in 1966 revealed a mosaic pavement in a building in the northern part of the site. Partial excavation continued in 1969, 1972 and 1978 when the remains of buildings occupying three sides of a courtyard were uncovered. The north range of buildings was rectangular in plan, stone-built, and measured 32m by 7.5m. It comprised eight rooms whose walls survived to a height of between 0.6m and 0.9m. Two rooms had opus signinum (rough concrete) floors, one had a mosaic floor laid in a geometric pattern, and the remainder had earth or gravel floors. The first two rooms would have been residential and are believed to have been reception rooms since fragments of painted wall-plaster were also found, while the room with the mosaic floor would have been the dining room, considered to be the most important room in a Roman house. A hypocaust lay underneath the mosaic floor and one of the opus signinum floors, with the mosaic also covering an earlier tesselated pavement. The remaining rooms were non-residential domestic rooms, one with an oven being interpreted as a kitchen. The whole of the north range was fronted by a veranda, as was the west range which measured 23.7m by 7.5m. The latter range comprised general domestic accommodation to the north and a bath suite to the south and was also stone-built, as was the east range, only the centre part of which has been excavated. The east range showed three phases of construction, the earliest being a rectangular building measuring 18m by 7.5m which was then replaced by a single room measuring 11m by 7.5m which had an apsidal or semi-circular end and was demolished before the final phase was built on top. Outside the courtyard, two successive boundary walls had also been demolished before the end of the occupation, which from the Roman coins recovered during excavation, appears to have been in the late fourth century AD. The main period of occupation was in the third and fourth centuries; however, a coin of the Emperor Hadrian and the remains of earlier timber structures found underneath a third-century aisled barn indicate that occupation may have begun at some time in the second century. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the area between the villa and the river was used as a military camp. The monument has been in State care since 1972. Excluded from the scheduling are the fences and gates erected round the excavated area and also the field boundary on the edge of the monument though the ground beneath 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.

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Books and journals
'Yorkshire Archaeological Journal' in Yorkshire Archaeological Journal Volume 45, , Vol. 45, (1973)
'Journal of Roman Studies' in Journal of Roman Studies Volume 57, , Vol. 57, (1967)
'Yorkshire Archaeological Journal' in Yorkshire Archaeological Journal Volume 42, , Vol. 42, (1967)
'Yorkshire Archaeological Journal' in Yorkshire Archaeological Journal Volume 43, , Vol. 43, (1971)


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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