Lammas Field Roman villa, 680m north east of Western Bury


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1015489

Date first listed: 20-Mar-1997


Ordnance survey map of Lammas Field Roman villa, 680m north east of Western Bury
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2018. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1015489 .pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 17-Dec-2018 at 19:33:50.


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

County: Hertfordshire

District: North Hertfordshire (District Authority)

Parish: Weston

National Grid Reference: TL 27280 30782


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 the Roman villa at Lammas Field has been degraded by ploughing, substantial archaeological deposits and features, including foundations, surfaces, and other structural remains will survive beneath the present ground surface, together with occupation material such as pottery, metal objects and coins. These will provide further valuable information relating to the dating and development of the settlement from the late Iron Age to the end of the villa's occupation during the last quarter of the fourth century AD. These same deposits, together with environmental evidence preserved within the various features of the monument, will illustrate the diet, status and lifestyles of the occupants and the nature of the landscape in which the monument was set. The monument's location some 250m south east of the road between the Roman settlements at Baldock and Braughing, and some 1.5km south east of the Romano-British settlement at Kingswoodbury is particularly significant for the study of the distributions and interrelationships of Roman sites in North Hertfordshire.


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


The monument includes the buried remains of a Roman villa situated on a south east facing slope in Lammas Field, above the upper valley of the River Beane and 680m north east of Weston Bury. Although the monument cannot be seen on the ground, its location has been identified from a closely plotted concentration of building and occupation materials recovered from field walking. These include floor and roof tiles, tesserae and pottery. In addition, the large number of coins found in the area, when considered with the sequence of pottery fabrics and styles, have provided a date range for the development of the site from its earliest phases of occupation in the late pre-Roman Iron Age to its abandonment in the second half of the fourth century AD. The results of the fieldwalking programme suggest that a late Iron Age settlement on the site gradually evolved from the first century AD, undergoing considerable expansion and alteration, probably from the early years of the second century. The nature of the pre-Roman and first century settlement is not known but is clearly evidenced by the dense scatters of pottery concentrated within the area of the later structure. The villa building itself is thought to have been constructed from mortared flint. The walls may have been low sills intended to support a single-storey timber framed house with a tiled roof and at least one tessellated floor in a central range of rooms. The plots of finds from field walking suggest that this range is orientated north east to south west and measures approximately 60m in length by about 15m wide, with wings attached to the north western and south western corners. Concentrations of pottery in association with tesserae may indicate the location of the dining room, while a further pottery concentration to the west suggests the possibility of a kitchen in the north western wing, a fairly unusual arrangement also noted at the Gadebridge Roman villa. The combination of pottery and coin sequences indicates that the villa flourished during the second to fourth centuries, and was abandoned no earlier than c.AD 364-378 (the date of the last coins found on the site). This coincides with a period of extremely unsettled conditions in Britain, when rural areas were suffering not only from bands of Gaulish raiders but also from the depradations of deserters from the Roman armies. The military response under Valentinian (whose coins have been found on the villa site) strengthened British coastal and town defences from AD 369, and a short period of relatively peaceful conditions ensued. However, from AD 378 a series of rebellions and usurpations resulted in instability and decline, and it is thought that uncertain economic conditions and general insecurity may have caused the abandonment of the Lammas Field villa at this time.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 5 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: 27917

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Neal, S, 'Reports of the Research Committee of the Society of Antiquaries' in The Excavation of the Roman Villa in Gadebridge Park 1963-8, , Vol. XXXI, (1974)
Salway, P, 'The Oxford History of England' in Roman Britain, , Vol. 1A, (1981), 374-409
plans, maps, scatter diagrams, Went, D A, Fieldwalking Archive, (1990)

End of official listing