Roman settlement at Bays Meadow
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1020620
Date first listed: 08-Apr-1954
Date of most recent amendment: 28-Jan-2003
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Wychavon (District Authority)
Parish: Droitwich Spa
National Grid Reference: SO 89817 63884
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 Roman settlement at Bays Meadow has been demonstrated by excavations to survive well, with a variety of settlement remains dating from the mid-second century AD until the end of the Roman occupation of Britain in the fifth century. The different phases of occupation and buildings will demonstrate changing fashions and technologies throughout the Roman period. Evidence about the agricultural regime is provided by the corn drying kilns, ditches and associated field system, whilst other remains illustrate industrial activity including a mosaic workshop. The sophistication of the villa and high status artefactual evidence, including imported luxury goods, suggest that the occupants were wealthy and were perhaps associated with the profitable salt production in the area. The site therefore gives an insight into their lifestyle, trade and connections. Environmental evidence from the fills of the wells, ditches and kilns will provide information about the diet and standard of living of the occupants and the natural environment surrounding the site during the Roman period.
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
The monument includes the known extent of the buried remains of a Roman
villa and its associated settlement remains in Bays Meadow. It is located on
rising ground to the north of the Roman town known as Salinae, (modern
Droitwich), so-called because of its association with the production of salt.
It lies to the west of the Roman fort at Dodderhill which is the subject of a
separate scheduling. Roman remains, including two tessellated pavements, were
first revealed during the construction of the now disused railway line in 1849
and excavations were carried out during the 1920s, 1950s and 1960s. These
early excavations demonstrated that several buildings occupied the site and
during the third century AD a substantial ditched rampart protected the site.
More recent excavations, in advance of development, have found Roman remains
including ditches, which are believed to be part of the field system
associated with the villa.
During the second century AD there were two houses of winged corridor type set at right angles to each other. The larger house was the most opulent and had 18 rooms including evidence of wall plaster, a hypocaust system that allowed warm air from a furnace to heat the walls and floors, and a possible bath house. A wide variety of artefactual evidence from the site of the larger house, including jewellery and imported decorated furniture, was of very high status suggesting that its occupants may have benefited from the wealth generated by salt production in the area.
During the third century a double ditch and bank, including flat bottomed ditches some 4.5m wide and 3m apart with an internal clay bank 3m high, was constructed enclosing the northern edge of the site. Later in the third century the area was re-planned and additional buildings, including an aisled building with a pair of T-shaped corn drying kilns and a well, were constructed. To the north west of the houses was a large paved area. The corn drying kilns went out of use during the Roman period, and later Roman rubbish pits were subsequently dug in the area. The villa was destroyed by fire at the end of the third century, and the area was reoccupied during the fourth century. This occupation continued until the fifth century.
Beyond the main building complex, further features relating to the settlement were recorded by excavation. These included a cobbled road with drainage ditches which led away from the site in a north westerly direction, and other drainage ditches and rubbish pits. In addition, evidence of industrial activity included at least three hearths, a limekiln and a mosaic workshop.
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: 30093
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
BUFAU, , 'BUFAU report' in Evaluation at Bays Meadow, (1996)
Woodiwiss, , Hurst, , 'CAServices report' in Evaluation at Wolsey Bays Medow, , Vol. 437, (1996)
Gelling, P S, Excavations In Bays Meadow, 1957, (1954)
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