Romano-British villa, with cemetery and associated building, at Batten Hanger, 600m south east of Hill Lands Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1021457

Date first listed: 23-Feb-2011


Ordnance survey map of Romano-British villa, with cemetery and associated building, at Batten Hanger, 600m south east of Hill Lands Farm
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: West Sussex

District: Chichester (District Authority)

Parish: Elsted and Treyford

National Park: SOUTH DOWNS

National Grid Reference: SU 81690 15705, SU 81792 15438, SU 81803 15682


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 courtyard villa at Batten Hanger survives well. Excavations in the late 1980s and early 1990s revealing the fabric of the villa have shown the ground plan of the villa is well preserved with strong evidence of multiple phases of development. Much of the villa and associated complex remain unexcavated and therefore the site retains a high degree of potential for further investigation, particularly in its association with the Romano-British cemetery and Romano-Celtic temple. Firm evidence for fifth century occupancy is exceptional, and of great interest. The unexcavated areas will contain information on the construction and evolution of the site and its associated landscape. The site will also hold valuable environmental and archaeological information relating to the Roman occupation of West Sussex. The Romano-Celtic temple at Batten Hanger survives well and will provide archaeological and environmental information relating to its development and evolution and also its relationship to the cemetery, the villa and the landscape in which it was built. The Romano-British cemetery appears to survive well although its full extent is not known. It will contain archaeological information and environmental evidence relating to the local Romano-British population and burial practices, and to its relationship with the associated temple, villa and agrarian landscape.


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


The monument includes a Romano-British villa, a Romano-British mixed inhumation and cremation cemetery and a small Romano-British building (identified as a temple or mausoleum), all on a gently sloping south-facing dry valley on the South Downs 11.2km (7 miles) north of Chichester, in three separate areas of protection. The villa is aligned north-south and includes at least two ranges of building facing a courtyard and a large precinct to the north of the villa. The whole villa is defined by a surrounding buried ditch. The north and west ranges have been partially excavated, but no east range is yet identified. To the north of the villa geophysical survey has identified a circular feature and a rectangular feature within the area of the villa precinct. The villa comprises four phases of building possibly starting in the late first century AD. Most of these phases relate to the north range. By the mid second century to mid third century the north range had the flint footing of what was probably a timber-framed building which may have been an unfinished corridor villa. At this time beneath the west end on the north range were the traces of a substantial masonry and timber-framed building, aligned north-south, 20m long and 12m wide with a courtyard to the south. By the mid to late third century an aisled building 40m long and 15m wide was positioned so that its long south side faced down the valley. In its west end was a suite of at least six rooms, and at the east end of the building a bath house with a mosaic floor. In the fourth century occupation of the aisled building continued and the west range was extended southwards in at least three phases of building to extend for some 65m with a terrace of rooms. By the fifth century the aisled building in the north range had been replaced by a large hall 32m long and 11m wide with masonry side walls and timber uprights every 4m. The east gable wall, which may have been 12m high, had fallen in almost complete section and was composed of courses of flint and stone with decorative tile and chalk pilasters and a string course of Roman tile. The bath house may have continued in use as a freestanding building. A grave aligned north-south was found 10m south of the south-west angle of the villa's enclosure ditch, and contained two inhumations. Approximately 250m to the north of the villa are the remains of a small rectangular building, about 6m by 7m. This is thought to be a small Romano-British mausoleum or temple. A mixed cremation and inhumation cemetery lies approximately 290m north of the villa and approximately 115m west of the small rectangular mausoleum or temple. The cemetery was discovered by a farm worker in 2003, who found three Roman pots close to a badger sett approximately 290m north of the villa site. Investigation found at least five more ceramic vessels and two of glass as well as portions of a human arm and skull. Further investigation was prevented by the protection afforded to the badgers. The villa was discovered by ploughing in 1971, and in 1975 woodland to the west of the villa was cleared and a flint wall found. In 1985 ploughing revealed a large expanse of Roman pottery and tile, and in 1988-1991 the Chichester District Archaeological Unit carried out evaluation by trial trenching. In 2006 the Institute of Archaeology, University College London carried out a geophysical survey of an area to the north of the villa and an excavation which revealed agricultural activity to the north of the villa buildings and a significant amount of slag from blacksmithing activities. All fencing and fence posts are excluded from the scheduling, but the ground beneath them 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: 28896

Legacy System: RSM

End of official listing