Romano-British villa, with associated enclosures and other features, at Condercum Green, Ingleby Barwick

Overview

Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
1473345
Date first listed:
15-Mar-2021
Location Description:
The green at Condercum Green, Ingleby Barwick, Stockton-on-Tees

Map

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Location

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

Location Description:
The green at Condercum Green, Ingleby Barwick, Stockton-on-Tees
District:
Stockton-on-Tees (Unitary Authority)
Parish:
Ingleby Barwick
National Grid Reference:
NZ4357215058

Summary

A Romano-British villa probably established on the site of a pre-existing Iron Age farmstead in the late 2nd century AD and occupied into the 5th century, the area including the largely unexcavated buried remains of the principal villa building together with a transect across an associated rectilinear field system. The area also includes buried archaeological remains interpreted as an Iron Age round house.

Reasons for Designation

The Romano-British villa, with associated enclosures and other features, at Condercum Green, Ingleby Barwick is included on the Schedule for the following principal reasons:

* Survival, rarity: for the inclusion of a positively identified yet unexcavated principal building of a Romano-British villa complex, this being a rare national survival; * Potential: that the area also preserves remains of occupation both pre-dating and immediately post-dating the Roman period, along with a representative sample area of the associated field systems, all this providing important evidence of both continuity and change over at least five centuries; * Documentation: the understanding and importance of the monument is considerably enhanced by the detailed archaeological reports of investigations across the surrounding area.

History

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 1st to the 4th 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 1,000 examples recorded nationally. The majority of these are classified as 'minor' villas to distinguish them from 'major' palatial 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.

The site at Ingleby Barwick was first identified by Don Spratt in 1970 via aerial photographs of crop marks within arable fields to the north and west of the subsequently demolished Quarry Farm. Evaluation excavation in 1979 confirmed the survival of archaeological deposits, identifying an Iron Age curvilinear field system that was modified and partly replaced by a rectilinear Romano-British field system. In 2000, geophysical survey supported by sample excavation identified further features including an area identified as a complex of buildings around a courtyard. Extensive excavations followed in 2003, in advance of the housing development that now surrounds the monument, revealing a series of stone-founded Romano-British villa buildings. The site is one of the northern-most villas of the Roman Empire that have been identified to date (2020): only three others have been identified in the area, at Old Durham, Piercebridge, and Dalton-on-Tees, although only the last of these still survives. The excavation also identified that the earlier field system had its origins in the Bronze Age: carbonised residue found with a sherd of pottery being dated to about 2,000 BC. The monument was deliberately set aside from the redevelopment: it was carefully selected to include the full extent of the principal villa building together with a transect designed to retain a representative sample of the associated field system. This whole area was then left unexcavated and protected from disturbance during construction work, to form public open space designed to preserve the underlying archaeology. Buildings outside of the monument that were excavated included one with a hypocaust (an under-floor hot air heating system), furnace and drain which was interpreted as a caldarium (a heated Roman bathroom). There are some indications that this small, but relatively expensively constructed building may have pre-dated the main villa building, however it was subsequently converted to house a corn-drying kiln in the 3rd or early 4th century. Around 30m to its south a larger stone-built aisled building was also excavated. Measuring about 10m by 30m with rows of postholes showing how its roof structure would have been supported, this probably served as a multifunctional farm building, a form of structure fairly typical of Romano-British villas. Other excavated features in the surrounding area included ovens and working surfaces related to food production and grain drying, along with other evidence of domestic and craft activity including small-scale glass working. Pottery and other artefact finds indicate that the villa is likely to have been established in the Antonine period, the later 2nd century AD, with evidence that it may have developed from a small, unenclosed Iron Age settlement or farmstead. A small quantity of late/post-Roman pottery associated with an enclosure to the north of the villa complex containing two circular timber structures, rubbish pits and an oven suggests that the site continued to be occupied at least into the 5th century AD. Excavated material also suggests that the area was occupied in the post-Roman period, with two large rectangular hollows identified as possible Grubenhäuser (sunken floored houses characteristic of Anglian settlers) with material from a fire pit being dated to AD 550-690.

Details

PRINCIPAL ELEMENTS: surviving as buried archaeological remains including the principal building of a Romano-British villa complex, with associated structures and features, as well as a transect across an associated rectilinear field system. The area also includes buried archaeological remains interpreted as an Iron Age round house together with parts of an associated curvilinear field system that has origins dating back to the Bronze Age.   DESCRIPTION: the monument was formerly arable farm land that is now a generally level and mainly grassed village green surrounded by a housing development built after 2003. This area includes the full extent of the buried remains of the principal building of a Romano-British villa complex. Geophysical survey showed that this building consists of a main range measuring about 30m north-south by 15m deep with eastwards projecting side wings, the main range having a north-south corridor with a series of rooms on its western side. This plan form, known as a winged corridor building, is one of the common designs of principal villa buildings built in Britain during the Roman period. Sample excavation demonstrated that it was stone-built and likely to have been of two storeys. The marked absence of roof tiles from the archaeological investigations across the area suggests that the main building, along with the others of the complex, was thatched or roofed with timber shingles. Finds of white wall plaster suggest that the main building was plastered although it may also have included stone cladding: excavation of the aisled building uncovered two in situ T-clamps made of iron that held thin sheets of red sandstone to form a wall cladding.

Around 30m to the rear (west) of the main villa building is a north-south track way, delineated by flanking ditches, interpreted as a droveway. These ditches had been recut several times showing that the track had been used for a considerable period of time. Mainly to the west of this track there is a complex of rectangular enclosures with ditched boundaries forming a rectilinear field system that is aligned with the villa buildings. Evidence from the surrounding excavations suggests that these enclosures were probably livestock paddocks, probably mainly for sheep, but possibly for horse breeding. There is also good evidence for cereal processing at the villa.

Geophysical survey within the monument between the droveway and the main villa building identified a circular structure about 10m in diameter set within the southern part of a rounded enclosure. This is interpreted as an Iron Age round house, likely to be associated with the finds of later prehistoric pottery and other evidence of occupation pre-dating the construction of the villa.

AREA OF MONUMENT: this includes the full extent of the area that was set aside from the housing development as public open space designed to preserve the archaeological remains described above. This area is outlined by tarmacked paths which lie immediately outside the monument.

EXCLUSIONS: lamp posts, sign posts and rubbish bins are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included.

Sources

Books and journals
Archaeological Services Durham University, , A Roman Villa at the Edge of Empire. Excavations at Ingleby Barwick 2003-04 , (2013)
Other
Archaeological Services Durham University 'A Romano-British villa and settlement at Ingleby Barwick, Stockton-on-Tees' Report 1709 (November 2008) Durham University

Legal

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

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