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Ditchley Park Roman villa and part of an associated field system 450m ENE of Lodge Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Spelsbury, Oxfordshire

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Latitude: 51.8775 / 51°52'39"N

Longitude: -1.4211 / 1°25'16"W

OS Eastings: 439944.076368

OS Northings: 220043.163544

OS Grid: SP399200

Mapcode National: GBR 6TQ.7JR

Mapcode Global: VHBZQ.B21J

Entry Name: Ditchley Park Roman villa and part of an associated field system 450m ENE of Lodge Farm

Scheduled Date: 9 May 1935

Last Amended: 13 October 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009420

English Heritage Legacy ID: 21820

County: Oxfordshire

Civil Parish: Spelsbury

Traditional County: Oxfordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Oxfordshire

Church of England Parish: Enstone

Church of England Diocese: Oxford


The monument includes a Roman villa within a wider ditched enclosure, and part
of an associated field system, all situated 450m ENE of Lodge Farm.
The main villa building includes a winged corridor structure with eight major
rooms and a surrounding verandah which was subsequently extended in two phases
of building. The earliest structure measured 30m from east to west and 15m
from north to south with the entrance facing south across a 15m wide
forecourt. This was then extended with the building of a series of four rooms
in a corridor to the rear of the building. This extension ran the whole length
of the house and measured 3m wide. The third phase included the building of
two partition walls in the rear corridor to form extra rooms, and an extension
to form an enclosed verandah on the east, west and south sides. This created a
building which measured 36m from east to west and 21m from north to south,
entered via a 7m square forecourt. Partial excavations of the villa and air
photographs provide detailed records of the layout of the building and the
functions of many of its rooms.

The main villa building is located at the northern end of a rectangular
ditched enclosure which measures c.92m from east to west and c.105m from
north to south. The outer ditch has become infilled over the years but can be
seen on air photographs as a buried feature up to 6m wide.
The ditch surrounds a walled enclosure measuring 86m from east to west by 92m
from north to south. Also within the enclosure are a well, agricultural
buildings including a threshing floor and granary, and estate workers'

The enclosure is entered by a 10m wide drive running into the compound from
the south. This is flanked on each side by a 2m wide ditch, both ditches
running south from the main ditch around the enclosure. These link with
further land boundary ditches which divide the contemporary farmland around
the villa. These ditches are visible on air photographs and have been subject
to partial excavation. From these sources they are known to survive over an
area measuring at least 250m from north to south and 200m from east to west
and provide evidence of the contemporary land management of the estate.

Excluded from the scheduling is the boundary fence forming its southern side,
but the land beneath 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 Ditchley Park Roman villa is known from air photographs to survive well
below the level of recent agricultural disturbance. Partial excavation has
demonstrated that archaeological and environmental evidence will survive
relating to the construction of the villa, the economy of its inhabitants, and
the landscape in which it was built.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Raleigh Radford, C A, 'Proceedings' in Ditchley Roman Villa, (1936)
Raleigh Radford, C A, 'Proceedings' in Ditchley Roman Villa, (1936)
Taylor, M V, 'A History of Oxfordshire' in Romano British Remains E Country Houses, , Vol. Volume 1, (1939), 306-24
Oblique, Allen, GWG., Ditchley Villa, (1930)
Title: 1:10,000 Series
Source Date: 1980
Sheet SP 32 SE
Title: Ordnance Survey 1:10000 Series
Source Date: 1980
Sheet SP 32 SE

Source: Historic England

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