Roman settlement remains immediately south of Westland Road


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020547

Date first listed: 09-Feb-1981

Date of most recent amendment: 24-Apr-2002


Ordnance survey map of Roman settlement remains immediately south of Westland Road
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Somerset

District: South Somerset (District Authority)

Parish: Yeovil

National Grid Reference: ST 54879 15672


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

Reasons for Designation

Five types of town are known to have existed in Roman Britain: coloniae, municipia, civitas capitals, Roman provincial capitals and Roman small towns. The first four types can be classified as `public towns' because each had an official status within the provincial administrative system. Roman small towns are settlements of urban character which lack the administrative status of public towns, but which are nevertheless recognisably urban in terms of morphology, features and function. They tend to lack the planned rectangular street grids, public buildings and well-appointed town houses of the public towns and instead are generally characterised by mainly insubstantial timber or half-timbered structures. Some small towns possess an enclosing wall, while others have masonry or earthwork defences. Additional features include temples, bath houses, ovens, kilns and cemeteries. Roman small towns began to emerge in the mid-first century AD. However, the majority of examples appeared in the later first and second centuries, while the third and fourth centuries saw the growth and development of existing establishments, together with the emergence of a small number of new ones. Some small towns had their origins in earlier military sites such as fort-vici and developed into independent urban areas following the abandonment of the forts. Others developed alongside major roads and were able to exploit a wide range of commercial opportunities as a result of their location. There are a total of 133 Roman small towns recorded in England. These are mainly concentrated in the Midlands and central southern England. Some examples have survived as undeveloped `greenfield' sites and consequently possess particularly well-preserved archaeological remains.

The Roman settlement remains immediately south of Westland Road are known from partial excavation to contain the below ground remains of several Roman buildings, some with impressive internal features. There is additional evidence of Roman town planning in the form of streets and planned drainage. The settlement remains have the potential to provide further valuable information on the wealth, status, and lifestyle of the town's occupants during the period between the first and the fourth centuries AD.


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


The monument includes the below ground remains of several Roman town houses and at least two minor roads. These formed part of a Roman town, which once stood astride a major road linking Lindinis (Ilchester) to Durnovaria (Dorchester); the Roman name for Yeovil is not known.

The monument survives in the form of buried features which were revealed by partial excavation, and includes the sites of houses, evidence of a planned street layout with at least two roads, and a planned drainage system.

A partial excavation, which was undertaken in 1927-8, exposed a series of buildings grouped around a paved courtyard of approximately 62m by 52m. These buildings are considered to represent at least four separate town houses, each having a number of rooms; also exposed was a large open structure which was possibly used for an agricultural or perhaps an industrial function. The buildings were constructed to a high standard; one was of bascilican form and most of the rooms were floored with either mosaic or a yellow cement. A substantial building with an `L'-shaped plan, located on the north west side of the courtyard displays several internal features, which suggests that it was the house of a person of high status. It includes a small apse containing a stone base which may indicate the site of an altar or shrine and also a room with a white tessellated floor which has a walled stone basin set into it. The remains of a possible bath suite were uncovered in a building on the south east side of the courtyard which contained a plastered plunge bath and drain. Auxiliary buildings were also revealed, including a furnace room located in a building on the north east side which housed the remains of a channelled hypocaust (a below floor heating system), and a cellar located beneath a four-roomed house on the south side of the courtyard with traces of steps leading to it from above.

Sections of two roads, contemporary in date with the town houses, were also identified during the same excavation, one located along the south side and the other on the west. The course of the road identified on the west side runs virtually parallel with the course of the major Roman road from Ilchester to Dorchester, which is located approximately 200m to the west. The roads are recorded as 3.3m wide with a slight camber and laid with flat slabs of local stone approximately 0.3m deep. Both roads extend beyond the partially excavated limits of the site. A series of drainage channels which extend from the buildings into a further channel flank the road on the west side. These run in the direction of a stream, thus confirming the presence of a planned drainage system.

A further partial excavation undertaken in 1980 located a wall and an additional stone-lined drain on the north east side of the site and this is thought to be associated with the bath suite buildings previously exposed. Dating evidence recovered suggests a first century AD foundation for the town and a continued occupation throughout the Roman period until at least the fourth century, and possibly later.

Several earlier finds recovered from beneath the Roman levels, specifically from a building on the south west side of the courtyard, indicate that the site was occupied for a while at some stage during the Iron Age. Three iron arrowheads, together with flint and pottery were found, although there is no evidence to support continual occupation from this period through to the Roman occupation.

A number of items are excluded from the scheduling. These are: all fencing and fence posts, all gates and gate posts, all fixed-post litter bins, all telegraph poles, all concrete service markers and all tarmac play areas; the ground beneath all these features is, however, 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: 35302

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Leech, R H, Romano-British Settlement in S Somerset and N Dorset, (1977), 13-20
Leach, P and Burrow, I, Westalnds Roman Villa, Yeovil, 1981, Trial Excavations - Interim Report

End of official listing