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Roman villa 550m south-west of Woolaston station

A Scheduled Monument in Woolaston, Gloucestershire

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Latitude: 51.6851 / 51°41'6"N

Longitude: -2.5845 / 2°35'4"W

OS Eastings: 359689.754516

OS Northings: 198643.405513

OS Grid: ST596986

Mapcode National: GBR JR.50LW

Mapcode Global: VH87H.5X12

Entry Name: Roman villa 550m south-west of Woolaston station

Scheduled Date: 1 October 1935

Last Amended: 26 March 2012

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1004860

English Heritage Legacy ID: GC 102

County: Gloucestershire

Civil Parish: Woolaston

Built-Up Area: Woolaston

Traditional County: Gloucestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Gloucestershire

Church of England Parish: Woolaston St Andrew

Church of England Diocese: Gloucester


The buried remains of a second to fifth century AD Romano-British villa which retains evidence for iron production, overlooking the River Severn. In the northern part of the site is a World War Two pill box.

Source: Historic England


Principal elements

This Roman villa complex is located on a plateau overlooking the River Severn, some 550m to the south-west of Woolaston Station. It includes a villa that was occupied from the second to the beginning of the fourth century AD and again from the fourth to the fifth century AD. To the south-west of the principal building are the buried remains of a further building which was associated with the production of iron during the mid-third to late fourth centuries AD. Elsewhere on the site are the possible remains of a lighthouse and a beacon also of Roman date. The beacon is located in Middle Chesters, the field to the north of the railway. In addition there is a World War Two pill box towards the northern end of the site in Lower Chesters.


Excavations of 1932 to 1935 revealed a major Romano-British villa of the tripartite corridor-type with wings. It is orientated roughly north to south, measuring approximately 47m by 47m and includes a residential range to the east, bath house to the south and a courtyard to the west. A boundary wall runs from the south of the villa to a small, square building thought to be a lighthouse. The boundary wall then runs to the west with evidence for a gateway to its centre, before turning to the north where it terminates at a further gateway. To the west, outside the boundary wall, is a detached, rectangular building measuring approximately 23m by 9.5m. The function of this building, which consists of a single large room with a corridor along its southern side, is unclear but it has been suggested that it is a barn with labourers’ room.

Finds at the villa site have included large quantities of pottery dating from the second to the fourth century AD, tesserae, stone roof tiles, iron nails and coins primarily from the fourth century, with the exception of one coin from the second century. A flagstone platform, found during excavation in the field to the north of the railway is thought to be the site of a beacon dating to the second period of occupation.

To the south-west of the villa, on the same alignment as the villa’s west range, are the remains of what was a rectangular timber building on padstones measuring 16.5m by 8.2m, and containing two iron-smelting furnaces and stone slabs, possibly for ore-crushing. Excavation found evidence for a large concentration of iron slag in the vicinity of this building, which, together with the remains of the furnaces, indicates that it was manufacturing iron on an industrial scale.

The World War Two type 26 pill box in the northern part of the site is constructed of concrete blocks and reinforced concrete. It stands some 1.5m high; the floor within the building is lower than the surrounding ground surface.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

The Romano-British villa at Woolaston is scheduled for the following principal reasons:

* Archaeological interest: a Romano-British villa associated with the processing and smelting of iron on a relatively large scale;
* Association: with two other scheduled villas that are located close to the River Severn and which retain evidence for iron production;
* Potential: partial excavation has demonstrated that the site will contain further important archaeological and metallurgical information concerning both the occupation of the villa and its associated industrial activities.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Cleere, F, The Iron Industry of Roman Britain, (1981), 20, 75-78, 104
Fulford, M G, Allen, J R L , 'Britannia' in Iron-Making At The Chesters Villa, Woolaston, Gloucestershire: Survey And Excavation 1987-91, , Vol. 23, (1992), 159-215
Scott Garrett, C, Harris, F H , 'Archaeologia Cambrensis' in Chesters Roman Villa, Woolaston, Gloucestershire, (1938), 93-125
Gloucestershire County Council, The Scowles and Associated Iron Industry Survey: Project Number 3342, (2007)
Historic Environment Record 16: Roman Villa known as The Chesters Roman Villa (Gloucestershire County Council),
Historic Environment Record 17 and 18: Beacon and Lighthouse (Gloucestershire County Council),
NY 1.14, MPP iron and steel industry step 3 report, (1998)

Source: Historic England

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