Roman villa remains 290m south east of Springfield Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1021453

Date first listed: 18-Feb-2011


Ordnance survey map of Roman villa remains 290m south east of Springfield Farm
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This copy shows the entry on 12-Dec-2018 at 22:17:18.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: South Gloucestershire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Horton

National Grid Reference: ST 74311 85309


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 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.

Despite some historic robbing and later agricultural activity, the Roman villa remains 290m south east of Springfield Farm, survive comparatively well and will contain important information relating to the construction, use and demise of the complex. Geophysical surveys combined with partial excavation have clearly demonstrated the extent and character of this important Roman settlement. The location of the site close to the Roman town of Wickwar and combined with the high density of Roman villa and other remains in the district, serves to enhance the importance of this villa.


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The monument includes a Romano-British villa situated on a slight spur overlooking Hawkesbury Common. The villa's existence was first suggested by various crop marks, particularly those visible during the summers of 1975-77 and 1995 together with pottery scatters. Its extent and form was confirmed by geophysical surveys conducted in 1997, 1999 and 2003, and its character confirmed by partial excavation in the summers of 2001-2003. Together the geophysical surveys reveal a villa complex including at least three large buildings linked by walls forming a courtyard surrounded by a series of curving and rectilinear ditches. The two largest buildings lie within the southern part of the courtyard, are parallel to each other and are orientated north to south. The smaller building denotes the northern edge of the courtyard and is aligned east to west. Excavations within the northern building have revealed the buried foundations of a 3rd century rectangular building measuring 25m wide by 15m long surviving up to five courses high. Collapsed building materials, including Roman hexagonal pennant roof slabs and iron nails together with coin evidence suggest the building collapsed sometime after AD 316. A cobbled surface lying outside the structure and a cobbled trackway were also revealed. The unexcavated southern buildings are each approximately 40m long by 20m wide and stand 35m apart. They form part of the same complex and are likely to have been built at the same time in the 3rd century AD. To the east of the villa complex are the buried foundations of a broad and irregular wall, in places up to 3m wide. Within the bounds of the broad wall and appended to the east wing of the villa is another irregular structure approximately 15m long and 10m wide. Situated a short distance to the south of the villa is a small rectangular structure of unknown date and function known only from the geophysical survey. Further evidence of intensive occupation is provided by an array of artefacts recovered during excavation and fieldwalking including coinage of 3rd and 4th centuries, stone roof slabs, pottery (Samian, Amphora, black burnished Dorset and Oxfordshire wares, Mortaria and one beaker sherd with a 1st century date), animal bones (including oyster shell), one lump of metalworking clinker, two fragments of window glass, a bronze Roman military style brooch, a steelyard lead weight, a large number of iron objects (mostly nails, one lump of iron slag, one small iron hobnail) and a buckle. Modern fencing along field boundaries is excluded from the scheduling, but the ground below is included. Sources: Archaeological Desktop Study, Report for Bristol and Region Archaeological Services no. 383. (2003) Barker, P. P. & Mercer, E. J. F. Geophysical Survey Report for Bristol and Region Archaeological Services, (1999) Evans, D. E., The Roman Pottery from Excavations at Springfield Farm, (2001) Evans, D. E., The Roman Pottery from Excavations at Springfield Farm, (2002) Evans, D. E., The Roman Pottery from Excavations at Springfield Farm, (2003) Jackson, A., Martin, J. & Martin, M. Geophysical Survey Report, (2003) Osgood, R., The Excavation of a Roman Villa, Horton, (2001) Osgood, R., The Excavation of a Roman Villa, Horton, (2002)

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 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: 36061

Legacy System: RSM


South Gloucestershire County Council, SG8812,

End of official listing