Roman villa 630m south west of Starveall Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016309

Date first listed: 24-May-1956

Date of most recent amendment: 16-Jan-1998


Ordnance survey map of Roman villa 630m south west of Starveall Farm
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2019. 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 - 1016309 .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 21-Jan-2019 at 03:49:32.


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

District: Swindon (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Bishopstone

National Grid Reference: SU 25910 81555, SU 25998 81612


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 Roman villa 630m south west of Starveall Farm has been shown by small scale excavation to survive well and contain archaeological and environmental deposits relating to the monument and the landscape in which it was constructed.


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


The monument, which lies in two areas, includes the site of a Roman villa located 630m south west of Starveall Farm, situated high on the North Wiltshire chalkland just above the Ridgeway. The site occupies a north facing slope with extensive views across the Ridgeway and the Upper Thames Valley. Aerial photography in 1969 revealed a number of ditched enclosures surrounding an area in which a tesselated pavement had come to light in 1938. Subsequent geophysical survey and small scale excavation revealed a range of rooms and corridors, including the remains of a hypocaust heating system. The walls are up to 1m thick and constructed from mortared chalk block. Building debris included much tile and wall plaster, and a small portion of a mosaic floor was located. To the north west a rectangular building found by geophysical survey was confirmed by small scale excavation, having a construction of mortared chalk and flint block. The pattern of ditches visible from the air indicates that the villa enclosure straddles the farm track and encloses a total area of 4.5ha. A linear feature, shown on aerial photographs to extend eastwards from the north eastern corner of the monument is part of a field system and is not included in the scheduling. All fenceposts 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: 28957

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Phillips, B, 'Wiltshire Archaeological Magazine' in Starveall Farm, Romano-British Villa, , Vol. 74/75, (1981), 40-55

End of official listing