Ancient Monuments

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Chessels Roman villa

A Scheduled Monument in West Coker, Somerset

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Latitude: 50.9219 / 50°55'18"N

Longitude: -2.6717 / 2°40'17"W

OS Eastings: 352885.717086

OS Northings: 113814.466599

OS Grid: ST528138

Mapcode National: GBR MM.Q8XQ

Mapcode Global: FRA 569N.T5H

Entry Name: Chessels Roman villa

Scheduled Date: 8 October 1954

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1006186

English Heritage Legacy ID: SO 280

County: Somerset

Civil Parish: West Coker

Traditional County: Somerset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Somerset


Minor Romano British villa 160m south-west of Culliver’s Grave.

Source: Historic England


This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 17 August 2015. This 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.

This monument includes a minor Romano British villa situated on a gentle east facing slope to the north of Green Lane. The villa survives as entirely buried structures, layers and deposits with no visible surface features. The villa was discovered in a field called ‘Chessels’ in 1861 by Mr John Moore. Finds included many tesserae, painted wall plaster, tiles and roofing slates, a bronze ring, a bronze boat shaped brooch, possibly of late Iron Age date, a statuette of the god Mars, an inscribed plate, Samian and coarse wares, building nails, foundations to a substantial building and some Roman coins. The excavators were of the opinion the villa had burnt down, the site had been robbed and a subsequent less opulent building erected. The villa was occupied from the 3rd to 4th centuries AD.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Romano-British villas were extensive rural estates with groups of domestic, agricultural and occasionally industrial buildings at the focus. 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, under-floor 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 first to the fourth 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 1000 examples recorded nationally. The majority of these are classified as `minor' villas. 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. Despite partial early excavation the minor Romano British villa 160m south west of Culliver’s Grave will contain further archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, development, longevity, social, political and economic significance, agricultural practices, trade, industrial activity, domestic arrangements, abandonment and overall landscape context.

Source: Historic England


PastScape Monument No:-196297

Source: Historic England

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