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Carisbrooke Romano-British villa

A Scheduled Monument in Newport, Isle of Wight

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Latitude: 50.6905 / 50°41'25"N

Longitude: -1.3148 / 1°18'53"W

OS Eastings: 448499.118955

OS Northings: 88090.361724

OS Grid: SZ484880

Mapcode National: GBR 8BH.QD9

Mapcode Global: FRA 8747.TXB

Entry Name: Carisbrooke Romano-British villa

Scheduled Date: 14 April 1953

Last Amended: 16 November 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1012718

English Heritage Legacy ID: 22039

County: Isle of Wight

Civil Parish: Newport

Built-Up Area: Newport

Traditional County: Hampshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Isle of Wight

Church of England Parish: Carisbrooke St Mary the Virgin

Church of England Diocese: Portsmouth


The monument includes a Roman villa situated on the lower slope of a south
east facing hillside above Lukely Brook.

The villa, which is aligned north west-south east, includes a bath house and
hypocaust with further associated features, including rooms surrounding an
atrium, to the north. These features have been revealed and their extent
recorded by part excavation.

The villa is recorded as being of `basilican plan'. From the evidence of
excavation, it was thought to be c.36.5m long and c.21m wide. The walls are of
chalk and are flint-faced, and there is a central atrium surrounded on three
sides by other rooms. The `atrium', which had a mosaic floor, projects
slightly into the room on its north east side; this room also had a mosaic
floor. Around the north and west sides of the `atrium' are rooms 3m wide with
cement floors. On the east side of the `atrium' is a corridor 12.8m long and
2.4m wide. On the south west side of the complex is a semicircular bath 2.28m
long and 0.4m deep with a hypocaust in its floor. South east of the bath is a
large courtyard over which modern stables were erected.

The first indications of the existence of the villa, in the form of Roman
tiling, were noticed in foundation trenches dug for stables in the vicarage
grounds in April 1859 by W Spickernell. His account of the subsequent
excavation was in a letter to the Gentleman's Magazine. The coin series from
the villa suggests a late third century-early fourth century occupation only.
Excavation revealed that both corridor and `atrium' were paved with red
tesserae and the main room had a mosaic floor with a floral motif. Painted
plaster panels occupied the southern walls. Wood ash was found in isolated
patches and some of the floors appeared burnt. Amongst the finds were an iron
saw, two pots, a flue pipe and the handle of a bronze patera. Partial
excavation in 1944 located one furnace flue. There are still some walls
covered in spoil upstanding from the time of the excavation, and foundations
stand to various heights.

The stone and brickwork of the modern walls are excluded from the scheduling,
but the ground beneath is included. The remains of the villa are Listed Grade

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

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 Roman villa at Carisbrooke survives well and is known from partial
excavation to contain archaeological remains. It will also contain
environmental evidence relating to the villa, the economy of its inhabitants
and the landscape in which they lived. This villa is one of only seven to have
been identified on the island, and thus is integral to an understanding of the
Romano-British period on the Isle of Wight.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
'Proceedings of the I.O.W. Nat History and Archaeological Society' in Proceedings of the I.O.W. Nat History and Archaeological Society, , Vol. 3, (1944), 423-424
Spickernell, W, 'Gentleman's Magazine' in Gentleman's Magazine, , Vol. 7, (1859), 399-401
Johnston, D. E., The Carisbrooke villa and its mosaics-interim report, 1973,

Source: Historic England

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