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


Ordnance survey map of Romano-British villa at Manor Hall Road, Southwick
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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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 important.

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 plaster. 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,

End of official listing