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A Romano-British villa at Boxted

A Scheduled Monument in Upchurch, Kent

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Latitude: 51.3654 / 51°21'55"N

Longitude: 0.6628 / 0°39'45"E

OS Eastings: 585459.397787

OS Northings: 166289.13

OS Grid: TQ854662

Mapcode National: GBR QRL.6DW

Mapcode Global: VHJLX.FYQ5

Entry Name: A Romano-British villa at Boxted

Scheduled Date: 26 August 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009022

English Heritage Legacy ID: 25462

County: Kent

Civil Parish: Upchurch

Traditional County: Kent

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Kent


The monument includes the remains of a minor Romano-British villa situated on
the southern edge of the north Kent marshes, on the southern bank of the River
Thames, around 2km south of the present course of the river. The villa is
located on the western slope of a low, clay valley 4.3km to the north of the
course of Watling Street, the major Roman road which ran from London
(Londinium) to Canterbury (Cantiacorum). The known, buried remains of the
villa, partially visible as a crop mark on air photographs, and recorded from
partial excavations, represent a NNE-SSW orientated, south east facing,
rectangular building 65m long and 15m wide, with projecting wings at either
end. The main range is flanked on either side by corridors which give access
to the rooms within. The foundation walls are constructed of flint, ragstone
and tufa blocks set in mortar, and are c.0.6m wide. A further range of
buildings associated with the villa is known to exist around 54m to the east
of its northern wing, and c.27m to the south west is a well 3.6m deep.
The villa was partially excavated in 1882, when it was disturbed during clay
digging by local brick-makers. At least two rooms were discovered to have been
floored with tessellated pavements, and their walls faced with painted
plaster. Numerous finds included pottery sherds, coins, a bronze ring and
hairpin found in the fill of the well, and a cheese press, which is now in the
British Museum.

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

Despite some disturbance caused by past ploughing and clay digging, the
Romano-British villa at Boxted survives comparatively well and has been shown
by partial excavation to contain archaeological remains and environmental
evidence relating to the monument and the landscape in which it was
constructed. Around 260m to the south west of the villa are the remains of a
Romano-Celtic temple. These monuments are broadly contemporary and their close
association will provide evidence for the relationship between social,
economic and religious practices during the period of their construction and

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Payne, G, 'Archaeologia Cantiana' in Discovery of Foundations of Roman Buildings & other Remains etc, , Vol. 15, (1883), 104-107
MOD, 2146 58/4626, (1961)
Parish notes on church history, Davis, R, Lower Halstow Village Church, (1993)

Source: Historic England

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