Roman villa 450m south of Warren's Farm
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1013516
Date first listed: 20-Nov-1995
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Colchester (District Authority)
Parish: Great Tey
National Grid Reference: TL 88932 25354
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
Partial excavation has confirmed that remains of the Roman villa 450m south of Warren's Farm survives well beneath the ploughsoil. The majority of the site remains unexcavated and these deposits will contain information about the construction and layout of the villa and its associated buildings. Artefactual deposits, including evidence of industrial activity, and environmental deposits, which may survive at the base of the sequence, will also add to our understanding of the lifestyle and economy of the inhabitants and of the landscape in which they lived.
The monument includes the remains of a Roman villa complex, situated on a
gentle south facing slope on a gravel terrace running down to the Roman River
to the south. The villa has no upstanding remains but survives as buried
features below ground level. The site is located by a surface scatter of
artefacts which is visible within the ploughsoil.
The site was first noted in the early 1950s when deep ploughing of the site
disturbed Roman mortar, painted wall plaster and roof tile. Two partial
excavations have since taken place. The first was undertaken in 1956 by M J
Campen and between 1966 and 1971 a second partial excavation took place during
which further details of the plan of the villa building were recovered.
The villa includes a substantial masonry building which was noted during
partial excavation. This lies towards the northern edge of the monument. The
building incorporates tessellated floors and a hypocaust heating system. To
the south of this lies a yard area which is believed to have contained further
ancillary timber buildings.
In autumn 1993 a fieldwalking survey was undertaken which located a dense
concentration of Roman tile covering an area of 145m (WNW-ESE) by 130m, which
included the two partially excavated areas. The extent of the surface scatter
coincides with a terraced platform in the gentle slope of the valley side
which is believed to coincide with the extent of the villa complex itself. On
its south west side it lies 2m-3m above the surrounding ground level and by
c.1m on the north west.
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: 24878
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
Blyth, J R D, Great Tey Villa, (1967)
E C C, PRN 8709, (1988)
Fawn, J, (1993)
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