Roman building 270m north east of Priddy church


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1015497

Date first listed: 02-Apr-1965

Date of most recent amendment: 31-Jan-1997


Ordnance survey map of Roman building 270m north east of Priddy church
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Somerset

District: Mendip (District Authority)

Parish: Priddy

National Grid Reference: ST 53095 51461


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.

The site 270m north east of Priddy church has been demonstrated by trial excavation to have good archaeological survival. It is one of a range of Roman sites known from the Mendips, many of which are directly associated with the lead mining industry.


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


The monument includes a Roman building, interpreted as part of a small or minor villa, situated on a terrace on a north east facing slope, just above the bottom of a shallow dry valley. Excavation has demonstrated that archaeological remains survive below ground but no remains are visible on the surface. The site was the subject of trial excavations in 1964, which revealed traces of a large masonry building. In the field rough walling was found, with Roman fine and coarse pottery, hypocaust (under-floor heating) tiles, first to third century AD coins, bronze brooches and glass. In the wood to the south, further higher quality walling was found, having traces of coloured plaster on one face. The wood is named `Little Blacklands' on the 19th century Tithe Map, a name which may refer to dark soil indicating past occupation. Excluded from the scheduling are the modern stone walls around the field and wood, though the ground beneath them 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: 29036

Legacy System: RSM


OSAD Card ST55SW 57, (1966)
SMR site 25821, (1995)

End of official listing