Romano-British villa at Manor Hall Road, Southwick
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1015122
Date first listed: 19-Sep-1947
Date of most recent amendment: 13-Nov-1996
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
County: West Sussex
District: Adur (District Authority)
National Grid Reference: TQ 24454 05608, TQ 24459 05653
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
Despite some disturbance by modern development, the Romano-British villa at Southwick survives comparatively well, and part excavation has confirmed that it is amongst the earliest examples of this type of monument constructed nationally. The investigations have also demonstrated that the villa contains archaeological remains and environmental evidence relating to its development and use over a period of c.200 years.
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
The monument, which falls into two areas, includes a minor Romano-British
villa situated c.1km north of the Sussex coast. The villa complex, which
survives in buried form to the north and south of Manor Hall Road, has been
interpreted as lying at the centre of an agricultural estate which exploited
the fertile soils of the coastal plain to the east of the River Adur, now
covered by the modern Shoreham-Hove conurbation. The construction of Manor
Hall Road during the early 1930s destroyed that part of the villa which was
situated along its course, and this area is therefore not included in the
scheduling. The monument has also been partly disturbed by the subsequent
construction of a church and a number of modern dwellings.
The villa was first investigated in 1815, and further investigations carried
out during the 20th century suggested that the earliest Roman buildings on the
site date to the years between AD 70-80. The complex underwent at least one
phase of major redevelopment before gradually falling into disuse during the
late second century AD. The investigations also indicated the presence of
earlier buildings, represented by a group of post holes and shallow pits,
found in the north western sector of the monument. The analysis of pottery
fragments found nearby suggests that these date to the Iron Age.
The largest Roman building lies to the north and is a rectangular, west-east
aligned dwelling house measuring c.28m by c.17m, with c.0.6m wide wall
footings constructed of mortared flints. The house is divided into at least
eight rooms, linked by a corridor running along its northern side. These were
heated by a hypocaust, or underfloor heating system. A heated bath suite
adjoins the north western corner of the building. The buried walls of the
north eastern corner of the building are visible as parch marks on the lawned
area to the east of the modern church hall. Finds associated with the villa
include fragments of window glass, roof tiles, samian pottery and painted wall
Immediately to the south of the main building is a square courtyard,
surrounded by a covered walkway, with sides measuring c.28m. This has a
detached bath house on its eastern side, and a west-east aligned, rectangular
building measuring c.43m by 14m, interpreted as a work building or barn, lies
along its southern edge. A north-south aligned boundary wall runs from the
south western corner of the building for a distance of c.45m.
The modern Methodist church and hall, the houses and bungalows, including The
Manse, Hadrian and 1a Manor Hall Road, their associated garages, outbuildings
and sheds, all garden walls and fences and the modern surfaces of all drives,
paths and patios, 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: 27099
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
Canham, R A, 'Sussex Notes and Queries' in Southwick Roman Villa, (1966), 280-1
Canham, R A, 'Sussex Notes and Queries' in Southwick Roman Villa, (1966), 280-281
Rudling, D, 'Sussex Archaeological Collections' in Excavations on the site of Southwick Roman Villa, , Vol. 123, (1985), 73-84
Winbolt, S E, 'Sussex Archaeological Collections' in Roman Villa at Southwick, , Vol. 73, (1932), 13-32
Russell, J & Rudling, D, Archaeological Watching Brief at Southwick Methodist Church, 1992,
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