Brading Roman villa


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.

Isle of Wight (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SZ 60005 86249

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.

Brading Roman villa is a well-preserved example of a high status Roman building which has been shown by excavation, geophysical and aerial photographic survey to contain extensive archaeological and environmental deposits relating to the monument and the landscape in which it was constructed. Together the deposits will provide information on the nature of late prehistoric and Roman occupation and agriculture in the area and the gradual development, expansion and eventual decline of the site through to the early medieval period. The villa also has added importance as a well-used public amenity.


The monument includes Brading Roman villa, situated between the lower slopes of Brading Downs and the floodplain of the River Yar, overlooking the former coastal inlet at Brading Haven. Excavations between 1881 and 1900 revealed a winged corridor type villa with evidence of occupation between the second and fourth centuries AD. The central, western block of the villa contained the living quarters, and was probably a two storey building which included four rooms on its ground floor with elaborate and extremely high quality mosaic floors. Numerous finds such as painted wall plaster and window glass further indicate the high status of the villa. The central corridor of the block also contained `T'-shaped corn drying ovens which had apparently been inserted in the late fourth century after this part of the villa ceased to be used as a dwelling. The northern wing contained a well chamber, a hypocaust underfloor heating system and measured 42m in length east to west, and 15m in width. The southern wing has been heavily disturbed by ploughing, but was originally 46m in length east to west and 10m in width. A paved yard flanked either side of the wing and a separate bath house was situated adjacent to its eastern end. The standing remains of the villa are a Listed Building Grade I.

Aerial photography and geophysical survey carried out in 1994 and 1995 revealed evidence of an extensive series of field boundaries around the villa which are probably contemporary with it. A further contemporary field system on Brading Down is the subject of a separate scheduling. Subsequent archaeological evaluations in 1995 and 1997 discovered evidence of pre-Roman occupation in the form of circular structures of Iron Age date and associated enclosure ditches.

The modern buildings overlying the villa, all fences, interpretation boards, walkways and the modern surfaces of all paths and roads are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath all 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
Trott, K, A Rescue Excavation at Brading Roman Villa Coachpark, (1997)
Ancient Monuments Lab, Brading Roman Villa Magnetometer Surveys 1994-5, (1995)
Isle of Wight Council, 1017,
Loder, R. and Westmore, I., Fieldwork report...relating to improved management of Brading Villa, (1995)
Loder, R. and Westmore, I., Fieldwork report...relating to improved management of Brading Villa, (1995)
RCHME, NMR: SZ 58 NE 12,


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

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