Star Roman villa, 275m north east of Wimblestone
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Date of most recent amendment:
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Sedgemoor (District Authority)
- National Grid Reference:
- ST 43534 58685
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
Star Roman villa survives as prominent and largely undisturbed earthworks, and is a good example of its class. Part excavation has proved the excellent preservation of the remains.
The monument includes a small or minor Roman villa, situated near the foot of
a gently sloping south-facing valley side, close to Pyle Well Spring. The
villa is recognisable on the ground as low earthworks, 0.2m-0.75m high. In
plan these form the remains of a number of buildings grouped around a
courtyard, as well as associated enclosure divisions.
The most pronounced earthworks lie at the north of the monument, where a
distinct break of slope below the present hedge line defines one side of the
courtyard as well as adjoining enclosures to the east and west. Situated in
the north west corner of the courtyard is a large platform, 20m by 12m and up
to 0.75m high, representing the site of the main villa building. Additional
earthworks adjacent to this represent ancillary rooms and outbuildings, while
enclosures to the east and west are likely to represent field plots.
Further remains are situated to the south west of the main building, where a
prominent broad bank, orientated east-west across the site has a small
building hollow set into it, and to the south where a possible bath house was
identified by excavation.
Excavations in 1959 and 1969 revealed a sequence of Romano-British buildings
overlying Iron Age and earlier Mesolithic occupation. Some modern hedges
follow the boundaries of the villa on the north and east, and it is possible
that other boundaries in the vicinity have Roman origins.
Excluded from the scheduling are all modern fence posts and drain covers,
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:
- Legacy System:
Books and journals
Barton, K J, 'Proceedings of Somerset. Archaeological & Nat.Hist. Society' in Star Roman Villa, Shipham, Somerset, , Vol. 108, (1964), 45-93
This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing