Romano-British villa at Randolph's Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1014948

Date first listed: 16-Feb-1979

Date of most recent amendment: 05-Sep-1996


Ordnance survey map of Romano-British villa at Randolph's Farm
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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This copy shows the entry on 22-Jan-2019 at 12:40:16.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: West Sussex

District: Mid Sussex (District Authority)

Parish: Hurstpierpoint and Sayers Common

National Park: SOUTH DOWNS

National Grid Reference: TQ 28073 15040


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 some disturbance by 19th century drainage works, the Romano-British villa at Randolph's Farm survives well and has been shown by part excavation to contain information relating to the construction and use of the monument.


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


The monument includes a smaller minor Romano-British villa situated on a low, west facing clay rise c.300m south of the Roman road between Lewes and Chichester. The villa, which survives in the form of buried remains, was discovered during 19th century drainage works which will have caused some disturbance to the monument. Part excavation between 1857-1858 and during the 1940s and 1950s revealed traces of a building interpreted as the main domestic range c.0.3m beneath the ground. The excavated portion of the building covered a roughly north-south aligned rectangular area of c.24.4m by c.9.1m. It was constructed of mortared flint and tile walls above chalk foundations and was divided into rooms with tessellated floors. The building was heated by a hypocaust, or underfloor heating system, the furnace of which was found at the southern end of the range. Pottery found in association with the villa included sherds of high quality samian ware, and the date of these suggests that the building was in use during the first and second centuries AD. Investigations of similar monuments elsewhere indicate that as yet unidentified buried structures which originally formed part of the villa estate will survive in the areas around the main range. The villa is crossed by part of a later, north west-south east aligned post medieval coaching road leading from the Hurstpierpoint to Poynings Crossways road (the modern B2117) to the manor house at Danny, situated c.400m to the south east of the earlier villa. It survives as a low causeway c.3m wide. The modern fences which cross the monument are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them 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: 27071

Legacy System: RSM

End of official listing