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Roman villa complex and Anglo-Saxon cemetery, Southwell

A Scheduled Monument in Southwell, Nottinghamshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 53.0762 / 53°4'34"N

Longitude: -0.9523 / 0°57'8"W

OS Eastings: 470287.100181

OS Northings: 353736.630502

OS Grid: SK702537

Mapcode National: GBR BK4.02Z

Mapcode Global: WHFHF.BYS2

Entry Name: Roman villa complex and Anglo-Saxon cemetery, Southwell

Scheduled Date: 14 October 1960

Last Amended: 3 June 2013

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1003528

English Heritage Legacy ID: NT 138

County: Nottinghamshire

Civil Parish: Southwell

Built-Up Area: Southwell

Traditional County: Nottinghamshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Nottinghamshire

Church of England Parish: Southwell St Mary the Virgin

Church of England Diocese: Southwell and Nottingham

Summary

Southwell C1-C4 Roman villa complex and remains of an C8 Anglo-Saxon cemetery.

Source: Historic England

Details

Southwell sits on the western edge of the Trent valley within a gently undulating landscape. The monument is situated to the south-east of the town and slopes gently down to the south east towards Potwell Dyke. The site is surrounded by listed buildings; including the Grade II* listed The Residence and Vicars Court (NHLE 1211749); to the west of this is the Minster Church of St Mary the Virgin and the Bishops Manor both of which are listed at Grade I (NHLE 1374853 and NHLE 1211315). To the north are a series of Grade II listed buildings; Normanton Prebend (NHLE 1211643), South Muskham Prebend (NHLE 1374854), Ashleigh (31 Church St) (NHLE 1369908) and at the eastern end is the Grade II listed Old Rectory (NHLE 1046153).

The most recent excavation remains exposed (March 2013) provided the opportunity to view the extant archaeological deposits and the extent of excavation. The survival of the rich palimpsest of archaeological deposits has been dictated to some degree by the footprint of the Minster School, the negative impact of which is clearly visible across the site; many of the archaeological features have been truncated by the foundations. The depth of the archaeological horizons is variable across the site generally increasing in depth towards the east. This may in part be due to alluvial deposits from Potwell Dyke laid in times of flooding but some may also be due to ground levelling prior to the construction of the Minster school.

In addition to the principal villa building, other features within the monument include the large cut feature discovered in 2008, interpreted as a former clay-quarry working or a defensive ditch, probably originating in the C1-C2 which was respected and utilised when a large block wall was constructed within it, possibly corresponding with the aggrandisement of the adjacent villa in the late C3 – C4 century, although a radiocarbon date of a stake believed to be a scaffolding post from the construction of the wall has returned a convincing earlier date. Within the area of the currently (2013) exposed excavation the rectangular stone building aligned north-west to south-east, identified in the south west corner of the excavation, indicated at least one phase of redevelopment potentially commensurate with that noted during the excavation of the villa. Two internal dividing walls were observed, one with the remains of a floor surface on either side. The cemetery extended into this area and several burials took place within the footprint of the building, including one where the base of a grave was formed by the upper surface of the wall. The building was also disturbed by later ditches of probable early medieval and medieval date, a circular well cut through one of the robber trenches and the construction of the modern school. The decision was taken to preserve this building in situ, and excavation in this area ceased; inhumations already exposed were reburied and no further archaeological intervention took place. As a consequence this corner of the excavation retains the important stratigraphic relationship between the various phases of Roman, Medieval and Post medieval phases of activity on the site.

To the west and north-west of the exposed excavation site the monument lies mainly within public open space or within the gardens of The Residence. The construction of The Residence and Vicars Court in the C17 and later alterations in the C18 and C19 will have had some impact on the earlier buried archaeological deposits but the potential for a high level of survival of for example the currently unexcavated sections of the north and eastern wings of the villa is considerable. In 1787 Rooke noted remains of painted stucco, tesserae and pieces of Roman tile found at a depth of about 5ft, in the garden of Vicars Court (in Daniels 1966). The depth is certainly comparable to that recorded by Elliott (2004) just north of Church Street and contributes to the potential for the survival of archaeological deposits.

In the relatively small area of excavation to the north of Church Street (west of South Muskham Prebend) Elliott recorded box flue, pilae tiles as well as bipedalis brick suggesting the presence of hypocaust within the northern range of the villa. Further finds include tegulae roof tile, opus signinum, painted plaster fragments and red, white and greyish blue tesserae of a mosaic. Similar tesserae were used in mosaics in the south range, potentially dated to the mid-late C4 AD. Some C2 activity is also contemporary with C2 deposits in the south range and combined these suggest a widespread phase of demolition and rebuild during the life of the villa. Interestingly, the depth of deposits in the north and south are at variance; the north wing lies 2m below present ground level; the east wing of the bath house was found at a depth of 0.66m and 0.75m. The difference in level implies a degree of terracing may exist between the north and east ranges.

Extent of Scheduling

The monument is situated to the south-east of the town of Southwell and is bounded to the north primarily by the northern edge of Church Street, to the south by the northern edge of the playing fields and to the west by the western edge of The Residence and its garden. The eastern boundary of the scheduling is not clearly defined by a feature on the ground surface and has therefore been determined from the excavation plans. The scheduling includes all remains of the gully, large stone wall and the rectangular, stone built Roman building which was preserved in-situ.

The monument includes the site of the principal Roman villa building, surviving associated structures and the surviving remains of the Anglo-Saxon cemetery. The scheduled area lies mainly within the gardens of The Residence and an area of open public access to the south.

Exclusions

Vicars Court and The Residence are believed to be suitably protected under their Grade II* listed building status and are therefore excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath The Residence is included. All modern fencing, signage, lighting and path surfaces are excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath all these is included.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Southwell Roman villa complex and Anglo-Saxon cemetery is scheduled for the following principal reasons:

* Survival: various excavations dating from the mid C20 onwards have demonstrated well-preserved remains of the main villa building as well as artefactual and ecofactual evidence relating to the continuity and change in the use of the monument and the wider Roman and later landscape;

* Potential: the potential for contexts preserving structural, ecofactual and environmental material has been proven to be high;

* Diversity: a diverse range of components relating to the villa complex survive; the dwelling house, hypocaust heating systems, bath suite; ancilliary buildings as well as later features have all been documented;

* Archaeological Documentation: The level of archaeological documentation resulting from research and excavation is high. Since the mid-C20 a detailed record of the villa complex has evolved, producing a partial ground plan of the main dwelling and ancillary buildings, and further supplementary information regarding building materials and techniques, and phases of occupation.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Alvey, R C 1975, 'Transactions of the Thoroton Society , Nottinghamshire, 79' in Archaeological Note on the Site of the Southwell Minster Grammar School Extension, 1971, (1975)
Daniels, C, 'Transactions of the Thoroton Society, Vol70' in Excavation on the Site of the Roman Villa at Southwell, 1959, (1966)
Elliot, L, 'Transactions of the Thoroton Society' in Roman and Medieval remains at Church Street, Southwell, Nottinghamshire, (2004)
Other
Rowe, M, The Former School Site Church Street, Southwell, Nottinghamshire, 2010,
Samuels, J, Report on Archaeological evaluationat the Minster School, Southwell, Nottighamshire, 2003,
Savage, R. D. and Sleap, J, Proposed Residential Development, Church St, Southwell Nottinghamshire, 2012,
Wilson, A. J. 2001, Southwell Roman Villa, 2001,

Source: Historic England

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