Roman villa east of Lodge Hill Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1014599

Date first listed: 25-Oct-1972

Date of most recent amendment: 25-Jul-1996


Ordnance survey map of Roman villa east of Lodge Hill Farm
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Buckinghamshire

District: Wycombe (District Authority)

Parish: Bledlow-cum-Saunderton

National Grid Reference: SU 79780 99011


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.

Despite its location in a ploughed field the villa east of Lodge Hill Farm is considered to survive well, with clear evidence of its extent and condition recorded from the air since 1962. The buried remains of the principal house and other features will retain structural and artefactual evidence for the function of the villa, the status of its inhabitants and the duration of its occupation and use. The evidence of earlier occupation on the site in the Late pre-Roman Iron Age is particularly significant for the study of the development of settlement patterns in the region, and of the changes in Iron Age society and economy brought about by Roman rule.


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


The monument includes the buried remains of a Roman villa located within a large arable field immediately to the east of Lodge Hill Farm, on the floor of the broad valley separating the Chiltern Hills between West Wycombe and Princes Risborough. The monument cannot be seen clearly at ground level although its position is marked by a discrete area of dark soil containing fragments of tile, flint and other building materials. From the air, however, the positions of walls, ditches and other features frequently appear as cropmarks and parchmarks. These have been recorded by aerial photography since 1962, providing a clear and detailed picture of the principal structure and the associated components of the settlement. The main villa building lies approximately 230m ENE of the present farmhouse, visible in the aerial record as a rectangular structure, 24m in length and 15m wide, and orientated north west to south east. The walls are defined by light or parched areas in the crop, indicating the survival of stone foundations. The core of the building (perhaps the earliest part of the structure) is an oblong hall, c.5m by 20m, sub-divided into three rooms of equal size by two walls spanning the width. This is flanked by narrow corridors, similarly sub-divided into compartments, except to the south where a small rectangular extension, thought to be a bath house, is attached to the south eastern corner of the central hall. This is enclosed by a wall surrounding the southern end of the building which, together with a similar wall extending some 5m to either side of the northern corridor, suggests that the entire building was originally contained within a small courtyard. The building overlies the north eastern corner of a large ditched enclosure, roughly rectangular in plan and measuring some 100m east to west by 65m north to south. This contains a number of less clearly defined ditches including traces of a trackway entering the enclosure from the west. A series of smaller enclosures lies to the east, bounded to the south by a broad trackway extending from the southern arm of the large enclosure and forming an arc to the south of the main building. These features may have originated as part of a Late Iron Age farmstead, perhaps the precursor of the villa. Evidence of Late Iron Age occupation was discovered during a rescue excavation some 60m to the north of Lodge Hill Farm in 1984. The excavation uncovered a small cemetery containing the complete and fragmentary skeletal remains of two adults, one child and an infant. These were all tentatively dated to the Roman period: the first or second century AD, although two cremation assemblages (one intact, the other somewhat disturbed by workmen) were dated from the associated pottery to the Late pre-Roman Iron Age - the period between the final years of the first century BC and the Roman conquest (AD 43). Although the excavated cemetery area is not included in the scheduling, the discovery demonstrates some continuity in the customs and practices of the inhabitants of the settlement before and after the conquest. A minor road or trackway runs some 25m to the north of the villa, the flanking ditches of which can be traced in the aerial record extending some 210m between the farm track to the west and the former line of the eastern field boundary (removed in the mid 1970s). Towards the eastern side of this former field the track widens and divides into two routes, the southernmost route curving slightly to the south. A clearly defined cropmark ditch curves around the southern side of the villa complex, mirroring the curvature of the southern edge of the enclosures at distances of between 20m and 50m. This ditch is flanked on the northern side by a second, less distinct cropmark suggesting a further trackway. These trackways are thought to be related to the villa complex - defining the edges of further enclosures and providing access between the villa and its agricultural holdings. The two trackways are believed to form the northern and southern limits of the core of the villa. On the basis of excavations on comparable sites, this area is thought to contain the buried remains of a wide variety of features related to the operation of the villa, including further structures (built in timber and used for barns and stables), yard surfaces, wells, kilns, ovens, threshing floors and perhaps, given the limited size of the excavated example, further cemeteries.

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: 27149

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
St Joseph, J K, 'Journal of Roman Studies' in Air Reconnaissance in Britain, , Vol. 55, (1965), 88
Went, D, 'NHDC Field Arch Reports' in Little Wymondley Bypass, Herts: Archaeological Excavation 1991, , Vol. 15, (1992)
Wilson, D R, 'Britannia' in Romano-British Villas from the Air, (1974), 254-8
Wilson, D R, 'Britannia' in Romano-British Villas from the Air, (1974), 254-8
Ancient Monument Report AM107 (BU113), Paterson, H, Roman Villa east of Lodge Hill Farm, (1987)
AP plot (Bucks Museum), Allen, L, Lodge Hill Farm, Saunderton, (1979)
AP plot (Bucks Museum), Allen, L, Lodge Hill Farm, Saunderton, (1979)
copy held by Bucks Museums Service, CUCAP, BFL-3, (1971)
copy held by Bucks Museums, Whiteman, P, SU 79/99/01, (1973)
CUCAP, AFW-7 (1965), AGR-7 (1962), BFL-3 (1971),
CUCAP, AGR-7 (1962), AFW-7 (1965), BFL-3 (1971),
MPP Class Description, Ebbatson, L, Minor Villas (Romano-British), (1989)
Oblique AP (copy at Bucks Museums), Whiteman, P, SU 79/99/01, (1973)
Report held by Bucks Museums, Collard, M and Parkhouse, J, A Belgic/Romano-British Cemetery at Bledlow-cum-Saunderton, (1987)

End of official listing