Ancient Monuments

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Roman villa in Ashtead Forest

A Scheduled Monument in Ashtead Common, Surrey

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Latitude: 51.3288 / 51°19'43"N

Longitude: -0.3107 / 0°18'38"W

OS Eastings: 517796.57259

OS Northings: 160204.783113

OS Grid: TQ177602

Mapcode National: GBR 7G.4CH

Mapcode Global: VHGRN.KVMR

Entry Name: Roman villa in Ashtead Forest

Scheduled Date: 16 November 1934

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1003753

English Heritage Legacy ID: SU 88

County: Surrey

Electoral Ward/Division: Ashtead Common

Traditional County: Surrey

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Surrey

Church of England Parish: Ashtead

Church of England Diocese: Guildford


Minor Roman villa, 895m NNE of Caen Wood House.

Source: Historic England


This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 18 November 2014. The record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.

The monument includes a minor Roman villa surviving as buried remains. It is situated on the summit of a hill on Ashstead Common, south of which flows a small stream known as The Rye. The villa was approached by a branch of the Roman road known as Stane Street. The stone walls and foundations survive below-ground preserving much of the original ground plan of the villa. It is laid out on a corridor plan with a series of rooms set behind a corridor running the length of the building. It includes a bath annexe to the rear. Several of the rooms were heated by a hypocaust and include the remains of pilae, flue tiles and adjoining furnace pits. The floors are partly paved with brick but the remains of tesserae indicate that at least some of the rooms were originally tessellated. One room includes the remains of a hearth and an oven. The site was partially excavated in 1924-9, 1964-66 and 2006-7. The finds included Prehistoric pottery, Roman flue tiles with pattern and pictorial designs, Roman coarse-ware pottery, animal bones, oyster shells, a column made of segmental tiles, a coin, a bronze brooch and a gold pendant earring. The excavations indicated that the villa adjoined a large scale tile manufactory and uncovered the remains of a separate bath house to the south. The site was occupied from about the second half of the first century AD to the late second century AD. The first buildings are thought to have been erected from about AD 67. However in about AD 150 the buildings were dismantled and in AD180 the villa was partly rebuilt.

Further archaeological remains survive within the vicinity of this monument. Some such as a nearby undated earthwork are scheduled, but others are not because they have not been formally assessed. The tile manufactory includes a number of tile and brick kilns and quarries to the north-east of the villa. The detached bath house south of the villa includes a circular laconicum. The bath house may have been used by those working at the tile manufactory.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

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. Roman villas could serve a wide variety of uses alongside agricultural activities, including administrative, recreational and craft functions as well as areas of industrial activity such as tileries. 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.

The minor Roman villa 895m NNE of Caen Wood House survives well with much of its original ground plan intact. The villa is so placed to form the focus for an area of industrial activity, with an area of tile works nearby. The location of the separate bath house and tile manufactory in close proximity to the villa enhances its significance. The site will contain below-ground archaeological and environmental information relating to the construction, use and history of the villa.

Source: Historic England


HER 270 and 14764. NMR TQ16SE12, TQ16SE15, TQ15NE18, TQ16SE19. PastScape 397700, 397707, 397718, 397723

Source: Historic England

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