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Roman villa and associated field system, Barnsley Park

A Scheduled Monument in Barnsley, Gloucestershire

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Latitude: 51.7556 / 51°45'20"N

Longitude: -1.8865 / 1°53'11"W

OS Eastings: 407930.692524

OS Northings: 206331.137583

OS Grid: SP079063

Mapcode National: GBR 3QG.XJ3

Mapcode Global: VHB2L.841G

Entry Name: Roman villa and associated field system, Barnsley Park

Scheduled Date: 4 December 1951

Last Amended: 21 March 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1012777

English Heritage Legacy ID: 12008

County: Gloucestershire

Civil Parish: Barnsley

Traditional County: Gloucestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Gloucestershire

Church of England Parish: Barnsley St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Gloucester


The monument comprises a Roman villa situated within an associated field
system. The site has been the subject of an extensive partial excavation and
a full survey. The villa consists of a building with winged verandah facing
south east; it is nearly 33m in length and concealed a yard, possibly roofed,
with a bath house in one corner, a room or rooms at either end and other
structures including a channelled hypocaust on the north west side. A barn,
19m long and 5.6m wide internally, is set at right angles to the villa.
Although evidence for occupation dates from the 2nd century AD, the main
building and bath house were not erected until c.350-360 AD. However, within
about 20 years of construction the main building was reduced to mainly
agricultural use. Occupation of the site continued into the 5th century.
The fields associated with the villa cover some 49ha and occupy most of the
northern half of the park surrounding the buildings described above. They are
linked to and, with the exception of those to the east and south east, follow
the general alignment of 1.6ha of dry-stone walled closes immediately
surrounding the buildings. Field boundaries examined consist of narrow earthen
banks, their position being highlighted by ancient plough action. They survive
as lynchets 1.2m high or low baulks 13m across.
All modern fencing is excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath is

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 Barnsley Park monument is of particular importance because of the
association between villa and extensive and contemporary field systems. The
significance of the monument is further enhanced by the recently conducted and
fully published excavations of the villa complex. This has demonstrated the
extent of walled closes, an aspect of the site unparalleled and specific to
areas such as the Cotswolds. The excavation also demonstrated a particularly
high standard of survival of fragile structures.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Fowler, P J ed, Recent Work in Rural Archaeology, (1975)
Saville, A, Archaeological sites in the Avon and Glos. Cotswolds, (1980)
Webster, G, Barnsley Park, (1980)
Webster, G, Smith, L, The Excavation Of A R-B Rural Establishment...Part 2, (1982)
Webster, G, Fowler, P, Nodle, B, Smith, , , L, The Excavation of a R-B Rural Establishment ... Part 3, (1985)
Spec page 14 (Pagination 65-189), Webster, G, The Excavation Of A R-B Rural Establishment At Barnsley Park Pt1, (1981)

Source: Historic England

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