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Roman villa 100m north west of Handley Barns

A Scheduled Monument in Ingatestone and Fryerning, Essex

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Latitude: 51.69 / 51°41'24"N

Longitude: 0.3801 / 0°22'48"E

OS Eastings: 564613.186448

OS Northings: 201709.778672

OS Grid: TL646017

Mapcode National: GBR NJH.T3V

Mapcode Global: VHJK6.JST9

Entry Name: Roman villa 100m north west of Handley Barns

Scheduled Date: 21 October 1968

Last Amended: 20 August 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1008895

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24862

County: Essex

Civil Parish: Ingatestone and Fryerning

Traditional County: Essex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Essex

Church of England Parish: Fryerning St Mary the Virgin

Church of England Diocese: Chelmsford


The monument includes a Roman villa situated on the south facing slope of a
rise in the gently undulating clay hills of south west Essex. A spring rises
at the eastern side of the site. The site is known from the surface scatter of
artefacts identified through field walking. The villa buildings survive as
buried remains with foundations and floor deposits being preserved beneath the
ground surface as well as other buried features, including remains of
associated farming activity.
Concentrations of roof and box flue tile fragments have identified the
locations of two of the more important buildings within the villa complex. One
lies just beyond the western edge of Well Wood in the centre of the monument
while the second lies c.80m to the south. Both the buildings have maximum
dimensions of c.30m. The northern building was identified from a dense scatter
of tile and pottery while the southern building includes a concentration of
red tessarae which have come from a tiled floor or pavement. Surrounding these
buildings further Roman material has been recovered scattered across the whole
field. Finds recovered from field walking include fragments of Roman roof tile
and box flue tile as well as tile and brick wasters, red tesserae, sherds of
samian pottery, amphora fragments and a coin dating to the reign of Hadrian
(AD 117-138).
Excluded from the monument are all fences, fenceposts, telegraph poles and
manhole covers, although the ground beneath all of these is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

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. 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 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

The remains of the Roman villa 100m north west of Handley Barns will survive
well below the ploughsoil. Field walking and the collection of artefacts from
the soil surface has demonstrated the presence of archaeological structures
and deposits across the whole of the field between Box Wood and Well Wood.
These deposits will contain information about the construction and layout of
the villa and its associated buildings, whilst the associated artefactual
information and any environmental deposits which survive at the base of the
sequence will add to our understanding of the life-style and economy of the
inhabitants and of the landscape in which they lived. Such information will
add to the understanding of the extent and nature of Roman rural settlement
across south east England.

Source: Historic England


Essex Sites and Monuments Record 660, (1985)
Sellers E, Essex Sites and Monuments Record 660,

Source: Historic England

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