Romano-British villa at Borough Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1015234

Date first listed: 09-Feb-1978

Date of most recent amendment: 31-Jan-1997


Ordnance survey map of Romano-British villa at Borough Farm
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This copy shows the entry on 14-Dec-2018 at 20:43:33.


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

County: West Sussex

District: Horsham (District Authority)

Parish: Pulborough

National Grid Reference: TQ 06883 20092


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.

Although it has been partly disturbed by past ploughing and the construction of farm buildings, part excavation has shown that the villa at Borough Farm survives comparatively well, containing important archaeological remains relating to the construction and use of the monument. The villa is one of a number of similarly well-appointed country estates established in this part of West Sussex during the first century AD, indicating the rapid Romanisation of the Chichester hinterland in the decades following the Claudian invasion.


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


The monument includes a minor Romano-British villa situated on a sandstone hill which forms part of the Sussex Weald, a location which enjoys extensive views of the surrounding countryside and the Sussex Downs to the south. The villa lies about 500m to the east of the course of a north-south aligned, minor Roman road between Codmore Hill and Marehill, which joins Stane Street, the main Roman road between Chichester (Noviomagus) and London (Londinium) about 1km to the north. Surviving largely in the form of buried footings constructed of mortared sandstone blocks, the villa buildings range around what has been interpreted as a roughly square, north west-south east aligned courtyard. The main, domestic range runs across the centre of this and includes a north west-south east aligned, rectangular building of at least ten rooms, some of which were found to have been heated by a hypocaust, or underfloor heating system. At least three rooms had tesselated floors, and most were decorated with painted wall plaster. Further, contemporary buildings and structures associated with the villa will survive in the areas around the main range. The analysis of flue tiles discovered during part excavation of the monument in 1817 and 1907-1909 has suggested that the villa was constructed during the first century AD. Other finds included coins, fragments of window glass and Roman pottery and jewellery. Fragments of moulds used in the production of samian-type pottery were also revealed, indicating that the villa may have been involved in the production and distribution of fine wares. All farm buildings, garden structures and fences 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: 29239

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Black, E, 'British Archaeological Reports' in Roman Villa at Borough Farm, , Vol. 171, (1987), 155-156
Praetorius, C J, 'Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries' in Roman Villa at Borough Farm, , Vol. 23, (1909), 121-129

End of official listing