Romano-British nucleated enclosed settlement and Roman villa complex at Glebe Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020821

Date first listed: 02-Sep-2002


Ordnance survey map of Romano-British nucleated enclosed settlement and Roman villa complex at Glebe Farm
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Nottinghamshire

District: Rushcliffe (District Authority)

Parish: Barton in Fabis

National Grid Reference: SK 52729 31734


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

Reasons for Designation

Late Iron Age and Roman period nucleated enclosed settlements are discrete foci of occupation extending over an area of between 2ha and 15ha. Although the earliest examples may have been founded in the early part of the first millennium BC, most date from the fourth to first centuries BC/AD. Nucleated enclosed settlements are usually recognised as foci of permanent occupation during the Iron Age and earlier Roman period in much of western and central England. Some are considered to have acted as local political and economic centres within otherwise rurally based societies in these areas. A number of sites also have evidence in the form of structured deposits, articulated or semi-articulated animal and human burials and putative shrine structures to suggest a key role as local religious or ritual foci in Middle and Late Iron Age England. Some are clearly monumental constructions intended to convey actual or symbolic power through fortification. Many appear to be centres for the processing, storage and redistribution of agricultural and craft products.

The enclosing ramparts are frequently substantial, with ditches up to 15m wide. Internally recorded features include round houses and ovoid buildings, fenced or palisaded enclosures, hearths, ovens, floors, four and six post structures, pits, trackways and quarry hollows and rarely shrines. Larger extensively excavated examples show evidence for zonation of settlement within the earthworks, with dwellings lining the lee of the enclosure or along internal trackways and paths.

Various schemes have been suggested for classifying nucleated enclosed settlements, but the range of forms is enormous and appears to largely reflect the individual developmental histories of sites, their topographical setting and constructional practices. Shape is often irregular and reflects local topography, but rectilinear and polygonal forms that do not mirror their settings are known. Given the size and complexity of known examples of this class and the longevity of occupation in many cases, the diversity in plan form, settlement history and composition and methods and materials of construction used for the fabric of each settlement is no surprise. Nucleated enclosed settlements are recognised principally from aerial photography of crop marks, earthwork survey or, increasingly, geoprospection, and large scale field survey that includes surface artefact collection. Excavation is rare (currently estimated at eight per cent). There are approximately 250-400 recorded examples of nucleated enclosed settlements and all sites that have been positively identified and which have significant surviving remains will merit protection.

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 buildings 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, under floor 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.

Villa structures 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 remodeled to fit changing circumstances. 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 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 in 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.

Barton in Fabis is a rare and relatively well-preserved example of a Romano- British nucleated enclosed settlement and Roman villa complex. A combination of excavation and aerial photographic survey indicates the form, extent and level of survival of below ground remains within the settlement. Excavation has proven the survival of buried remains on the site of the Roman villa. Such survival is rare in the Trent Valley where continued arable agricultural has tended to degrade or destroy evidence. Aerial photographs give an indication of the form and extent of the site which survives over an area of almost 6ha. Barton in Fabis is one of just nine or ten examples of large nucleated enclosure complexes in the East Midlands; a group distinctive in form to other examples nationally.

Early nucleated settlement is unusual in the East Midlands, and implies an importance prior to the construction of the Roman villa. Evidence for continuity in the use of such sites is again rare in the Trent Valley and so adds to the national importance of the site. Evidence from morphologically comparable sites indicates that nucleated enclosed settlements, particularly those containing villa structures, are intimately and indeed symbiotically linked to Roman small towns. Coin assemblages from both settlement types have been shown to be similar, indicating the importance of the nucleated enclosed settlements in market exchange. This association is emphasised by the decline of both towns and villas at around the same time.

Taken as a whole, Barton in Fabis nucleated enclosed settlement and Roman villa retains important archaeological and environmental evidence. This offers the potential to understand the site in the context of the local settlement pattern and will add significantly to the knowledge and understanding of continuity and change in the social and economic development of the landscape during the Romano-British and Roman period.


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


The monument includes the buried remains of a Romano-British nucleated enclosed settlement and Roman villa complex. The site lies to the north, east and south of Glebe Farm. The remains of a curvilinear enclosed settlement of probable Iron Age date lying to the south east are also included. It is situated on Keuper marl subsoil with occasional deposits of gypsum and pebbles.

In 1856, excavations, approximately 84m east of Glebe Farm house, revealed a late third century tessellated pavement. This was removed from the site and subsequently lost. Further small scale excavations, carried out in the area between 1933 and 1949, identified a Roman villa of winged corridor construction, a circular structure, possibly a threshing floor and evidence of three periods of construction. The evidence, including building remains, coins, pottery and bones, suggested occupation of the site from the late first century to the first half of the fourth century. More recent excavations have confirmed second century occupation.

An assessment of all available aerial photography of the site was carried out between 1991 and 1996 under the auspices of the Royal Commission on the Historic Monuments of England, National Mapping Programme. This revealed crop marks to the north and south east of the villa, indicating the survival of more extensive remains. These take the form of curvilinear and linear ditches or walls defining a series of enclosures. Those to the north and north east of the villa are generally linear in form and those to the south east are more curvilinear, although linear elements do extend to the east. The crop marks are comparable to other sites, some of which have been excavated. Such comparisons help to identify the site at Glebe Farm as a nucleated enclosed settlement incorporating the Roman villa. These generally consisted of extensive foci of settlement containing numerous clusters of a relatively uniform spread of dwellings and ancillary agricultural structures and pens surrounded by frequently substantial enclosing earthworks. To the north and north east of Glebe Farm evidence of the enclosing earthworks is apparent in the form of parallel linear ditches running north to south. Although only short lengths of these are visible from aerial photographs, it does suggest that the enclosing earthworks incorporated the villa structure itself. This is a characteristic found in other similar sites in the region. Although dating evidence from the nucleated enclosed settlement at Glebe Farm is scant, continuity in the use of the site at Glebe Farm is indicated. Evidence from excavated examples shows that most date from the fourth century BC to the first century AD, but earlier examples, dating from the early part of the first millennium BC, are also known. Continuity in the use of the site at Glebe Farm is indicated. The curvilinear enclosures to the east are thought to represent the remains of an Iron Age settlement, the precursor to the later nucleated enclosed settlement and Roman villa.

Other activities associated with crop processing and storage, animal husbandry and craft production are all common features of nucleated enclosed settlements. Storage and processing facilities such as pits and four and six post structures are frequently abundant and metal working activity is often evident from residues or finds, though rarely structures. Evidence for some or all of these activities is expected to survive at this site. All the activities are evidence of the role of such sites as centres for the processing and exchange of rural produce but a number of sites also have evidence to suggest a key role as local religious or ritual foci in middle and late Iron Age England.

The villa remains partially underlie the present farmyard and buildings. Removal and replacement of previous structures and buildings in this area will undoubtedly have affected buried remains, but the evidence from comparable sites indicates that construction of new agricultural buildings does not necessarily involve extensive ground disturbance. The potential for further villa remains in this area is therefore considered high and consequently it is included in the scheduling.

The farm buildings, path surfaces and modern fences and walls 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: 35602

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Bishop, M, Archaeological resource assessment of Roman Nottinghamshire1-14
Bishop, M, Archaeological resource assessment of Roman Nottinghamshire1-14
Thompson, F H, 'Transactions of the Thoroton Society' in Roman Villa at Glebe Farm, Barton in Fabis, Notts. Excav. 1933-, , Vol. 55, (1951), 3-21
Deegan, A, A Report for the National Mapping Project - Nottinghamshire, (1999)
Deegan, A., Report for the National Mapping Programme - Nottinghamshire, (1999)

End of official listing