Roman villa 300m south east of Newton Lodge Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1014794

Date first listed: 25-Jul-1996


Ordnance survey map of Roman villa 300m south east of Newton Lodge Farm
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Milton Keynes (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Newton Blossomville

National Grid Reference: SP 91222 51477


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 ploughland, the villa 300m south east of Newton Lodge Farm is considered to survive well. Clear evidence for the extent of the complex and the design of the principal building range is provided by aerial photographs, and limited excavation has demonstrated the preservation of buried structural remains in good condition.

The site is particularly valuable as it provides an opportunity to study the the relationship of the Roman settlement to the earlier occupation of the site in the Iron Age, which is indicated in the pattern of enclosures and by the range of datable material retrieved from the field surface. The monument as a whole will contain evidence for the organisation, development and duration of the settlement during both these periods; reflecting domestic life, farming practices and the local environment at the time - evidence for which will be contained in deposits associated with the buildings, in the ditches surrounding the enclosures, and in other deeply dug, buried features such as pits, ponds and wells. The site has additional interest as part of the wider landscape of the Ouse Valley, providing evidence for the development of settlement patterns between the Iron Age and Roman periods, and allowing insights into 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 Romano-British villa complex located within an arable field on a broad spur of slightly raised ground to the south of the River Ouse, between Clifton Reynes and Newton Blossomville.

Cropmarks representing wall foundations, ditches, pits and other features, were first photographed from the air in the early 1960s, and have since been recorded in greater detail, providing evidence for a group of buildings set within a series of enclosures covering about 1.5ha. The site is also recognisable on the ground, marked by an expanse of dark soil and concentrations of pottery, tile and building stone brought to the surface by ploughing. A fieldwalking survey undertaken in the late 1980s by a local archaeological group further defined the area of the site and in the process collected datable material (coins and pottery) which indicated occupation between the second and fourth centuries AD. This survey also suggested earlier activity in the late pre-Roman Iron Age (c.50 BC to AD 43). The building materials collected or recorded at this time provide valuable information about the construction of the principal structures and include limestone blocks from the walls, tiles from the floors and roofs, and flue tiles from an underfloor heating system, or hypocaust.

The principal range of buildings is clearly visible in the aerial record, lying some 300m to the south east of the large barn at Newton Lodge Farm and extending for approximately 70m south west to north east along a slight rise in the field. At the south western end of this range lie the foundations of a large rectangular structure, c.8m by 20m, with evidence of internal partitions. Such simple buildings may be the earliest type of Romano-British villa. A rectangular walled courtyard extends c.16m northwards from the western half of this building and contains a smaller oblong structure (12m by 4m) set at right angles to the larger building. The rest of the range continues as a line of square and rectangular structures extending from the north east of the larger house. This range may be a single building, c.45m in length and sub-divided into individual rooms, or perhaps three or four separate buildings aligned together. Within this range, some 10m from the larger house, are the remains of a circular building which was evidently part of the overall construction. The presence of flue tiles on the site has prompted the suggestion that this room served as a bath house, with a furnace room taking up part of the remainder of the range.

A second circular structure lies some 50m to the north west of the main villa buildings. This was partly excavated in 1990 and 1991 revealing the base of a rubble wall, c.9m in diameter and faced with dressed limestone blocks. Fragments of samian ware (high quality Roman pottery) were found in association with a rubble and mortar floor contained within the structure, and a fourth century coin was discovered in the fill of one of the post holes for the roof supports. This round house represents an interesting example of a building type occasionally found by excavation elsewhere in the country - similar in design to the indigenous timber round houses, but constructed in stone and clearly contemporary with the more `Romanised' structures immediately to the south east.

The pattern of ditched enclosures surrounding the villa buildings is thought to demonstrate a prolonged period of development. The building range lies in the centre of a group of three rectilinear enclosures which continue c.50m to the west and 60m to the east. However, the range is aligned diagonally across this pattern and overlies sections of the boundary ditches. Villas were frequently constructed to enhance or supersede earlier Iron Age forms of settlement, dwellings or farmsteads, and the aerial evidence for this site together with the discovery of Iron Age coins and pottery on the surface of the field clearly implies such a sequence here. The eastern enclosure measures approximately 50m square and abuts the building range at its north western corner. This appears to have been retained unaltered, whereas the other two main enclosures (particulary the central enclosure which contains the villa buildings) show signs of adaptation to the orientation of the villa buildings. Both are transected by a long boundary feature (either a ditch or a wall) which runs parallel to the building range. The western enclosure contains several sub-divisions and a number of smaller features, which may relate either to the villa or the earlier settlement. The most prominent of these are two circular areas of dark silt located at the junctions of ditches and believed to be infilled ponds. Three similar features, also linked to an array of ditches and gullies, lie within the southern part of the central enclosure. These lie close to a large ring ditch, c.18m across, which appears to be overlain by later boundary ditches, and is thought to be either the foundation trench for the main house of the earlier settlement, or a drainage gulley encircling such a structure.

The enclosure boundaries extend in a south westerly direction from the principal building range and correspond with the position of a number of features revealed by recent cleaning of the sides of a drainage ditch flanking the southern field boundary. These features extend along the ditch sides over a distance of approximately 60m from a point c.123m from the south western corner of the field, and include a number of ditches and pits, stone-packed wall foundations, and a dense surface of limestone rubble resting on the natural clay beneath the topsoil which is thought to be either collapsed wall material or the surface of a trackway. These features have not been traced to the south of the old railway line on the southern side of the ditch, although the slight railway embankment itself will have served to enhance their preservation.

The old ground surface beneath the embankment is therefore included in the scheduling, although the material of the embankment itself and the gravel track along its top are excluded.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 5 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: 27158

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Potter, T W, Johns, C, Roman Britain, (1992), 92
Bucks Museum Service AP plot, Allen, L, Compilation of Aerial Evidence, (1979)
conversation with landowner, Davis, M, Location of Quern Stones, (1995)
CUCAP, ADO 79, 80, (1961)
CUCAP, AGH 14, (1962)
CUCAP, BZZ 87, 90, 93, (1976)
Martin, B, Rines Hill, 1990, Unpublished finds plot (SMR 1953)
Martin, B, Rines Hill, Clifton Reynes, 1990, unpublished finds plot (SMR 1953)
Martin, B, Rines Hill, Clifton Reynes, 1990, unpublished section (SMR 1953)
Meade, J, Roman Occupation in Olney & District, 1995, Undergrad thesis. Uni Warwick
Meade, J, Roman Occupation in Olney & District, 1995, Undergrad thesis. Uni Warwick
Ousedale Arch Group (copy in SMR), Martin, B, Rines Hill, Clifton Reynes, (1990)
unpublished section (SMR 1953), Went, D, North facing section of S field drain - Newton Lodge Farm Villa, (1995)
unpublished section (SMR 1953), Went, D, North facing section of S field drain - Newton Lodge Farm Villa, (1995)

End of official listing