Roman settlement 600m north east of Rowler


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1013950

Date first listed: 28-Jul-1995


Ordnance survey map of Roman settlement 600m north east of Rowler
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Northamptonshire

District: South Northamptonshire (District Authority)

Parish: Croughton

County: Northamptonshire

District: South Northamptonshire (District Authority)

Parish: Newbottle

National Grid Reference: SP 55024 35524


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

Reasons for Designation

The remains of the Roman settlement north east of Rowler are rare in including both an extensive nucleated settlement and an associated villa. Villa buildings usually include a well appointed dwelling house partly or wholly built of stone. Roofs were generally tiled and the house could feature mosaic floors, underfloor heating, wall plaster and glazed windows. Many had integral or separate suites of heated baths. The house was usually accompanied by ranges of buildings providing accommodation for farm labourers, workshops and storage for agricultural produce. These were often arranged around a courtyard and were surrounded by a complex of paddocks, pens, yards and features such as vegetable plots, granaries and threshing floors. Villa buildings were constructed throughout the period of Roman occupation, from the first to the fourth centuries AD. They could serve a wide variety of uses alongside agricultural activities, including administrative, recreational, craft and religious functions. The least elaborate villas served as simple farmhouses. Villa owners tended to be drawn from the elite of Romano-British society: while 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. Roman villa buildings are widespread, with between 400 and 1000 examples recorded nationally. They 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, the great majority of the known examples are identified as nationally important. The villa building at this monument is rare in containing mosaic flooring which survives in good condition and includes an intact representation of a very rare historiated scene. The understanding of the motif is enhanced by extensive documentation of its occurrence at other sites. Partial excavation of the archaeological layers above the mosaic has enabled the nature and importance of the building to be recognised while leaving the majority of deposits intact. The survival of the mosaic and associated wall plaster fragments also suggests a high potential for the recovery of a variety of artefacts which will tell us about domestic, economic, religious and industrial activity on the site. The preservation of organic material and evidence for the physical environment of the settlement during the period of occupation is also likely in water channels, ditches and pits. The application of non-destructive methods of archaeological investigation to the monument has enabled the date, character and extent of the remains to be determined. The settlement, including the villa complex, can thus be quite closely dated to a limited historical period and will preserve evidence of its development over this period. The survival of the different parts of the settlement and the relationships between them will inform us about the social and economic context of domestic, agricultural and industrial activity on the site. As one of a group of Roman settlements within a specific tribal and administrative zone the monument may also tell us how this settlement functioned in the wider rural landscape. An understanding of this monument will therefore contribute to our knowledge of Roman settlement in general, both within the region and beyond.


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


The monument includes the remains of a Roman settlement situated on the parish boundary between Croughton and Newbottle. It lies at the head of a tributary valley just south of the watershed between the Great Ouse and the Thames/Cherwell. The remains, which are principally located on the west side of the valley, take the form of buried archaeological deposits identified by aerial and geophysical survey, fieldwalking and partial excavation. In the north eastern part of the monument a watercourse rises and runs south westwards through a modern culvert to the field boundary where it becomes an open channel; both the spring and the culvert are now buried. Extending up the side of the valley to the west of the culvert is a roughly rectangular area of concentrated settlement remains occupying about 5ha. Immediately to the west of the water channel, and aligned with it, is a large rectangular platform over 30m wide and 70m long, visible as a low earthwork. Buried features identified by geophysical survey include a series of ditches which outline superimposed trackways and enclosures representing successive phases of buildings and other structures. A series of large subrectangular enclosures, thought to represent a group of fields, is associated with a number of trackways; one of these, which runs northwards along the side of the hill slope, may be a droveway used for moving animals between the settlement and pastureland to the north. Running north eastwards from the western corner of the monument, on the north side of the present parish boundary, another trackway extends in the direction of the spring. From the point at which these two trackways meet a further trackway runs eastwards across the stream. Parts of the large enclosures and principal trackways are contemporary with a succession of smaller enclosures and trackways, principally aligned east-west across the contours, which are believed to include house sites, garden plots and paddocks. Many of these features are associated with concentrations of material, identified by geophysical survey, which indicate intensive domestic, agricultural or industrial use. The survival of below ground deposits was demonstrated during the laying of a pipeline in 1991; these are thought to include the remains of stone and timber buildings. Artefacts recovered in systematic fieldwalking and chance finds indicate a period of occupation in the 2nd-4th centuries with an increase in activity in the late 3rd-4th century. The area of nucleated settlement is bounded on the south by a group of small enclosures, also detected by geophysical survey, which lie along the south side of the present field boundary. About 40m to the south east of these are the buried remains of a rectangular building measuring about 30m by 8m and aligned approximately north-south. This building was first identified in 1991 when a mosaic floor was partly excavated. The mosaic lies near the centre of the building and features a circular panel containing a representation of the Greek hero Bellerophon slaying the monster Chimaera. Bellerophon is depicted mounted on a white horse, Pegasus, and with his right arm thrusts a spear into the mouth of the monster which has a lion's head, a goat's body and a dragon's tail. The circular panel is set in an octagon at the centre of two overlapping squares which are bordered by braided ornament; together they form an eight- pointed star which is set within a wider geometrical framework. The mosaic, which is constructed of tesserae cut from limestone and sandstone, has been dated to the later 4th century. During re-excavation and cleaning of the mosaic in 1993 archaeological evidence for the destruction of the building, characterised by a layer of burnt mortar, wood, tile and painted plaster overlying the floor, was found. Impressions of the stone walls and reed ceiling of the room were found on the plaster fragments. The building in which the mosaic lies is thought to be a villa of simple rectangular type including a range of rooms without a corridor. Fragments of box-flue tiles and other material indicate the presence of a hypocaust. Significant quantities of 2nd to 4th century pottery and tile have been recovered during systematic fieldwalking in the area of the villa, and to the south and west where stone scatters and traces of activity identified by geophysical survey are believed to include features associated with the villa such as building and garden remains. The course of a trackway has been identified running southwards from the villa through these features. On the east side of the watercourse are further features identified by geophysical and aerial survey including a trackway, enclosures, and linear boundaries running up the hill slope away from both the nucleus of the settlement and the area of the villa. These boundaries and enclosures are believed to be largely agricultural, representing animal enclosures and field boundaries. Further enclosures and linear features have also been identified in the north eastern part of the monument. Systematic fieldwalking in both of these areas has indicated a date range of the 2nd-4th centuries suggesting that these remains are contemporary with other parts of the settlement. All modern fences and gates are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features 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: 22703

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Shaw, M, Masters, P, Roman Settlement at Rowler Farm, Croughton, Northamptonshire, (1995)
Tyrrell, R, Painted Wall Plaster from Croughton, near Brackley, (1991)
'The Independent' in The Independent, (1991)
Ancient Monument Laboratory, Croughton Roman Site: Field loop magnetic susceptibility surveys, (1994)
Ancient Monument Laboratory, Croughton Roman Site: Field loop magnetic susceptibility surveys, (1994)
Ancient Monument Laboratory, Croughton Roman Site: Field loop magnetic susceptibility surveys, (1994)
Ancient Monument Laboratory, Croughton Roman Site: Field loop magnetic susceptibility surveys, (1994)
Fleming, A, (1995)
Northampton Museum, Curteis, Mark, Coins found at Croughton c SP 550 355 by G Heritage, (1991)
Northampton Museum, Curteis, Mark, Coins found at Croughton c SP 550 355 by G Heritage, (1991)
Northamptonshire Heritage, Site reference 5717/1/2,
Payne, A, (1995)
report on watching brief 5/7/91, Cadman, G.E., Record Number 5535004 (Croughton gas pipeline), (1991)
Site code 492, Blore, Frances, Work undertaken at Croughton Roman settlement, Northamptonshire, (1993)

End of official listing