Roman villa 200m south of Station Cottages


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018352

Date first listed: 16-Nov-1998


Ordnance survey map of Roman villa 200m south of Station Cottages
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Leicestershire

District: Harborough (District Authority)

Parish: Cold Newton

National Grid Reference: SK 73678 06849


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 found throughout lowland Britain and between 400 and 1000 examples have been recorded in England. Of these less than 10 are examples of `major' villas. These were the largest, most substantial and opulent type of villa which were built and used by a small but extremely wealthy section of Romano-British society. 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. All major villas will be identified as nationally important.

The remains of the villa 200m south of Station Cottages, visible as they are as substantial earthworks, represent a particularly rare survival. They survive well with only limited disturbance. As a result of archaeological survey and limited excavation carried out during field drainage work the remains are quite well understood, and provide a good opportunity for understanding the usage and development of a high status Roman building within a rural context. The application of non-destructive methods of archaeological investigation to the monument has further enabled the character and extent of the remains to be determined to a relatively high degree. An understanding of this monument will therefore contribute to our knowledge of Roman settlement in general, both within the region and beyond.


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


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a Roman villa 200m south of Station Cottages identified by aerial photography, geophysical survey and part excavation.

The earthworks principally consist of banks up to 3m in width and 0.6m in height defining a rectangular area measuring approximately 65m by 75m internally. Limited evaluation carried out during field drainage work in 1980 showed the banks to be largely comprised of building debris and rubble from collapsed stone walls, the lower courses of which survive intact as buried features. The walls are believed to have enclosed a courtyard forming the focal point of the villa. Intermittent traces of linear earthworks running parallel with the northern and eastern sides of the courtyard may possibly be part of a secondary, outer enclosure which has been identified elsewhere by geophysical surveys which indicate its survival as a buried feature, probably in the form of stone wall foundations. A sub-circular bulge in the centre of the north western bank is considered to represent the remains of an ancillary building against the inner enclosure wall. A break in the bank approximately 8m in width immediately east of this building possibly indicates an original entrance, as does a 6m gap in the centre of the western bank. A widening in the south eastern side of the bank is also thought to indicate the presence of a structure against the inner enclosure wall on this side. Immediately north east of this, geophysical survey suggests the existence of a further range of buildings continuing from the south eastern corner of the enclosure for at least 30m. These structures are orientated on a WSW - ENE axis and appear to comprise at least three adjoining rooms, each approximately 10m square. Geophysical survey also indicated the existence of two parallel linear features approximately 10m apart and continuing from the south eastern corner of the enclosure on a north west-south east axis for roughly 30m. These correspond with a linear earthwork bank on a similar orientation and may be a continuation of the enclosure wall in this direction or some form of field boundary, possibly delineating a paddock or garden. A rectangular mound up to 35m in length, 10m in width and 0.6m in height situated approximately 10m north east of and parallel with the western enclosure wall is thought to be the location of a building within the courtyard. Fragments of stone, brick, tiles, plaster and tesserae disturbed by animal burrowing in the area of the mound suggest a substantial, high status structure containing a tessellated pavement. Trenching for drainage in 1980 also recovered large quantities of burnt stone and slate, which in addition to numbers of flue tiles across the site suggests that the villa contained a hypocaust central heating system.

A low bank approximately 10m in width with a pair of parallel linear depressions 18m apart on its eastern side runs from the northern side of the monument on a NNW-SSE axis. Given the proximity and orientation of these features in relation to the gap in the northern earthwork bank it is likely that they are contemporary with the villa and possibly comprise a field track or causeway providing the main access and associated drainage ditches. A sub-rectangular depression 19m in length, 9m in width and 0.6m in depth situated 30m west of the track is thought to be a pond. The orientation of this feature in relation to the trackway and enclosure wall suggests that it is contemporary with them.

The variety and form of flue tiles, roof tiles and pottery recovered from the area of the villa are indicative of a multi-phase structure continuing in use over some period of time. Examination of pottery suggests that the villa was inhabited between the 2nd-4th centuries AD.

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: 30242

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Hartley, R F, Cold Newton, (1982)
Lucas, J, Tile Report, (1983)
Williams, V, Dot Matrix Resistivity Plot of Roman Site at Cold Newton, (1982)
Liddle, P, 'Transactions of the Leices Archaeological and Historical Society' in Cold Newton, , Vol. 55, (1980)
Clamp, H., Roman Pottery Report, (1980)
Dr RJ Pollard, Identification of Roman Pottery, (1983)
Leicestershire Museums Service, Site Summary Sheet: 70 NW.N,
RCHME, NMR Short Report: UID 964659,
Voss, J., (1997)
Williams, V., Drain Lines/Finds at Cold Newton Villa, (1982)
Williams, V., Letters from Vaughan Williams to Peter Liddle, (1980)
Williams, V., Resistivity Plot of Roman Site at Cold Newton, (1982)

End of official listing