Carisbrooke Romano-British villa


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1012718

Date first listed: 14-Apr-1953

Date of most recent amendment: 16-Nov-1995


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

District: Isle of Wight (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Newport

National Grid Reference: SZ 48499 88090


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 Roman villa at Carisbrooke survives well and is known from partial excavation to contain archaeological remains. It will also contain environmental evidence relating to the villa, the economy of its inhabitants and the landscape in which they lived. This villa is one of only seven to have been identified on the island, and thus is integral to an understanding of the Romano-British period on the Isle of Wight.


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


The monument includes a Roman villa situated on the lower slope of a south east facing hillside above Lukely Brook.

The villa, which is aligned north west-south east, includes a bath house and hypocaust with further associated features, including rooms surrounding an atrium, to the north. These features have been revealed and their extent recorded by part excavation.

The villa is recorded as being of `basilican plan'. From the evidence of excavation, it was thought to be c.36.5m long and c.21m wide. The walls are of chalk and are flint-faced, and there is a central atrium surrounded on three sides by other rooms. The `atrium', which had a mosaic floor, projects slightly into the room on its north east side; this room also had a mosaic floor. Around the north and west sides of the `atrium' are rooms 3m wide with cement floors. On the east side of the `atrium' is a corridor 12.8m long and 2.4m wide. On the south west side of the complex is a semicircular bath 2.28m long and 0.4m deep with a hypocaust in its floor. South east of the bath is a large courtyard over which modern stables were erected.

The first indications of the existence of the villa, in the form of Roman tiling, were noticed in foundation trenches dug for stables in the vicarage grounds in April 1859 by W Spickernell. His account of the subsequent excavation was in a letter to the Gentleman's Magazine. The coin series from the villa suggests a late third century-early fourth century occupation only. Excavation revealed that both corridor and `atrium' were paved with red tesserae and the main room had a mosaic floor with a floral motif. Painted plaster panels occupied the southern walls. Wood ash was found in isolated patches and some of the floors appeared burnt. Amongst the finds were an iron saw, two pots, a flue pipe and the handle of a bronze patera. Partial excavation in 1944 located one furnace flue. There are still some walls covered in spoil upstanding from the time of the excavation, and foundations stand to various heights.

The stone and brickwork of the modern walls are excluded from the scheduling, but the ground beneath is included. The remains of the villa are Listed Grade 1.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 22039

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
'Proceedings of the I.O.W. Nat History and Archaeological Society' in Proceedings of the I.O.W. Nat History and Archaeological Society, , Vol. 3, (1944), 423-424
Spickernell, W, 'Gentleman's Magazine' in Gentleman's Magazine, , Vol. 7, (1859), 399-401
Johnston, D. E., The Carisbrooke villa and its mosaics-interim report, 1973,

End of official listing