Roman villa and associated bath house 450m north west of Lower Field Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1015160

Date first listed: 14-Jan-1977

Date of most recent amendment: 19-Sep-1996


Ordnance survey map of Roman villa and associated bath house 450m north west of Lower Field Farm
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Oxfordshire

District: West Oxfordshire (District Authority)

Parish: Asthal

National Grid Reference: SP 30242 11195


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 having been partly reduced by cultivation, the villa, its enclosure, the track and bath house north west of Lower Field Farm represent an unusual survival, and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to their construction and use and the landscape in which they were built. The conversion of the bath house to a dwelling is of particular interest. Taken as a group the monuments will provide information on the changing fortunes of an agricultural estate during the Roman period.


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


The monument includes the site of a Roman villa, its enclosure, a stone built bath house and track situated on the north side of the River Windrush, 450m north west of Lower Field Farm. It lies 600m south of the Roman road known as Akeman Street from which the track runs towards the monument. Little is known of the plan of the main villa which lies at the south west end of the enclosure, but the enclosure itself can be roughly plotted from aerial photographs and records of earthworks visible in 1917. The southern side of the enclosure lies along a stream from which water was obtained for the bath house. The enclosure is roughly rectangular and encloses an area roughly 350m from south west-north east by about 210m from north west-south east. The exact position of its north east corner is not known and may lie outside the area of the scheduling. The monument's best recorded component is the bath house, which lies roughly midway along the enclosure's southern side. It survives as stone foundations and lower wall courses, buried below the modern ground level. Its plan is clearly known from aerial photographs and records of two part excavations. The building lies immediately north of a former channel of the River Windrush and it originally consisted of a rectangular structure about 8m wide from east- west and 15m long from north-south. This had well built walls, particularly at the south end where it may have supported an upper storey. From excavations it is known that the building had at least two distinct phases of use. In the first phase the building served as a bath house. This consisted of several rooms with under floor (hypocaust) heating and changing rooms, further hot and cold rooms, a fuel store and other rooms. In a second phase the bath house was converted to a residence of 16 rooms of various sizes. The baths were filled in and levelled to form floors. The final building, including extensions, measured 24.4m from north-south and 15.2m wide. The track runs south east at right angles from the Roman Akeman Street and into the north west side of the enclosure where it ends at the likely site of the main villa building. Where visible on aerial photographs it measures about 20m wide including a pair of parallel flanking ditches about 3m wide. Excluded from the scheduling are all post and wire boundary fences which cross or surround the monument, although the ground beneath them is included in the scheduling.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 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: 28135

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Harden, D B, 'A History Of The County Of Oxfordshire' in Romano-British Remains, (1939), 319-321
Harden, D B, 'A History Of The County Of Oxfordshire' in Romano-British Remains, (1939), 320
PRN 12241, C.A.O., Roman Track, (1974)
PRN 1562, C.A.O., Worsham Roman Villa, (1974)
SP 31 SW - Cropmark layer, C.A.O., Sites and Monuments Record Cover Map - Cropmarks, (1995)
SP 31 SW - PRN layer, C.A.O., Sites and Monuments Record Cover Map - PRN's, (1995)
Title: Ordnance Survey 1:10000 Series Source Date: 1980 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: SP 31 SW
Title: Ordnance Survey 1:10000 Series Source Date: 1980 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: SP 31 SW

End of official listing