A Romano-British villa occupying the southern slope above the River Granta. The evidence suggests the complex was constructed as a corridor villa with an attached bath suite to the north-east in the 3rd century.
Reasons for Designation
The Roman villa at Linton is scheduled for the following principal reasons:
* Linton is the site of important and well-preserved remains of a Roman villa, which survive in the form of substantial archaeological remains beneath the present ground surface and is largely unexcavated.
* previous limited archaeological investigations have demonstrated the preservation of the remains. The remains provide information about the villa’s phases and methods of construction and the lifestyles of its inhabitants.
* the C19 and 1990s excavations have secured a good level of archaeological documentation, and the villa remains are clearly recorded in a number of aerial photographs.
Romano-British villas were constructed throughout the period of Roman occupation, from the 1st to the 4th centuries AD. They are amongst the most characteristic settlements of the Roman period, distinguished by an adoption of Roman traits such as rectilinear building types featuring wall-paintings, mosaics, hypocausts and bath suites. They often formed the focus of extensive rural estates, alongside domestic, agricultural and occasionally industrial buildings. A typical villa took the form of a well-appointed house, usually rectangular, with an adjoining or separate bath suite, and a number of ancillary buildings with associated yards and enclosures. Most were partly or wholly stone built, and some may have featured an upper storey. They are usually complex structures occupied over several hundred years and continually remodelled to fit changing circumstances.
Villas could serve a wide variety of uses alongside agricultural activities, including administrative, recreational and craft activities, and this is reflected in the considerable diversity in their plan. Although some were probably built by settlers from the wider Roman Empire, many are thought to have been built by the native elite, often sited on or nearby earlier Iron Age farmsteads.
The villa at Linton, formerly in the Essex parish of Hadstock, sits on the south western slope above the River Granta, 200m north of a former Roman road and river crossing. It was found by labourers during land ditching operations in 1826, and partly excavated by Richard Neville between 1846 and 1860. Neville’s excavations showed the villa to have been a ‘corridor’ villa built of brick and chalk, with a hypocaust heating system throughout. A bath house projected from the north east end of the main building. Although much of the villa masonry had been robbed for building stone, Neville revealed and removed a mosaic pavement (which was relaid at Audley End), and recovered large amounts of building material, including roofing and box tiles and painted wall plaster. Excavation evidence suggests that the villa was founded in the 3rd century and was occupied for most of the 4th century.
Neville also excavated a small inhumation cemetery associated with the villa 230m to the north east of the villa. No trace of the cemetery was found in excavations in late 2018. The discovery of a further burial west of the river in 1926 suggests that the excavated cemetery may have been closer to the villa building or further south than originally reported.
Further excavations were conducted in 1990 during the installation of a water pipeline from Ashdon to Linton. The excavations revealed buildings associated with the villa complex, including a number of storerooms.
PRINCIPAL ELEMENTS: A Romano-British villa occupying the south western slope above the River Granta. The evidence suggests the complex was constructed as a corridor villa with an attached bath suite to the north-east in the 3rd century. The bath suite appears to have been reordered during the life of the villa. Several burials associated with the complex have been identified to the east of the villa.
DESCRIPTION: The principal range of the villa was aligned north west to south east, and measures 35m by 17m. Crop marks suggest either an aisle or verandah along the south west façade. The north east range measured 40m by 9m. The detailed ground plan of the villa is unclear, as the published plan (Neville, 1851) does not match the accompanying written description or any visible crop marks. The building was built of brick with tile dressings, and contained a hypocaust heating system throughout. The bath house contained at least one plunge bath, and was paved with opus signinum. Internal walls were coated with painted plaster, and the roof was tiled.
A range of ancillary buildings stood to the east of the main villa building. These were built from flint and chalk, and probably had tile roofs. South of the buildings was a cobbled surface. The complex of villa and ancillary buildings were enclosed by a sub-circular enclosure, surviving as a crop mark. The exact locations of the burials associated with the villa are not known.