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Roman villa east of Lodge Hill Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Bledlow-cum-Saunderton, Buckinghamshire

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Latitude: 51.6841 / 51°41'2"N

Longitude: -0.8474 / 0°50'50"W

OS Eastings: 479775.830426

OS Northings: 199000.56879

OS Grid: SU797990

Mapcode National: GBR C33.8LJ

Mapcode Global: VHDVQ.8XBV

Entry Name: Roman villa east of Lodge Hill Farm

Scheduled Date: 25 October 1972

Last Amended: 25 July 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014599

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27149

County: Buckinghamshire

Civil Parish: Bledlow-cum-Saunderton

Traditional County: Buckinghamshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Buckinghamshire

Church of England Parish: Bledlow Ridge

Church of England Diocese: Oxford


The monument includes the buried remains of a Roman villa located within a
large arable field immediately to the east of Lodge Hill Farm, on the floor of
the broad valley separating the Chiltern Hills between West Wycombe and
Princes Risborough.
The monument cannot be seen clearly at ground level although its position is
marked by a discrete area of dark soil containing fragments of tile, flint and
other building materials. From the air, however, the positions of walls,
ditches and other features frequently appear as cropmarks and parchmarks.
These have been recorded by aerial photography since 1962, providing a clear
and detailed picture of the principal structure and the associated components
of the settlement.
The main villa building lies approximately 230m ENE of the present farmhouse,
visible in the aerial record as a rectangular structure, 24m in length and 15m
wide, and orientated north west to south east. The walls are defined by light
or parched areas in the crop, indicating the survival of stone foundations.
The core of the building (perhaps the earliest part of the structure) is an
oblong hall, c.5m by 20m, sub-divided into three rooms of equal size by two
walls spanning the width. This is flanked by narrow corridors, similarly
sub-divided into compartments, except to the south where a small rectangular
extension, thought to be a bath house, is attached to the south eastern corner
of the central hall. This is enclosed by a wall surrounding the southern end
of the building which, together with a similar wall extending some 5m to
either side of the northern corridor, suggests that the entire building was
originally contained within a small courtyard.
The building overlies the north eastern corner of a large ditched enclosure,
roughly rectangular in plan and measuring some 100m east to west by 65m north
to south. This contains a number of less clearly defined ditches including
traces of a trackway entering the enclosure from the west. A series of smaller
enclosures lies to the east, bounded to the south by a broad trackway
extending from the southern arm of the large enclosure and forming an arc to
the south of the main building. These features may have originated as part of
a Late Iron Age farmstead, perhaps the precursor of the villa. Evidence of
Late Iron Age occupation was discovered during a rescue excavation some 60m to
the north of Lodge Hill Farm in 1984. The excavation uncovered a small
cemetery containing the complete and fragmentary skeletal remains of two
adults, one child and an infant. These were all tentatively dated to the Roman
period: the first or second century AD, although two cremation assemblages
(one intact, the other somewhat disturbed by workmen) were dated from the
associated pottery to the Late pre-Roman Iron Age - the period between the
final years of the first century BC and the Roman conquest (AD 43). Although
the excavated cemetery area is not included in the scheduling, the discovery
demonstrates some continuity in the customs and practices of the inhabitants
of the settlement before and after the conquest.
A minor road or trackway runs some 25m to the north of the villa, the flanking
ditches of which can be traced in the aerial record extending some 210m
between the farm track to the west and the former line of the eastern field
boundary (removed in the mid 1970s). Towards the eastern side of this former
field the track widens and divides into two routes, the southernmost route
curving slightly to the south. A clearly defined cropmark ditch curves around
the southern side of the villa complex, mirroring the curvature of the
southern edge of the enclosures at distances of between 20m and 50m. This
ditch is flanked on the northern side by a second, less distinct cropmark
suggesting a further trackway. These trackways are thought to be related to
the villa complex - defining the edges of further enclosures and providing
access between the villa and its agricultural holdings. The two trackways are
believed to form the northern and southern limits of the core of the villa. On
the basis of excavations on comparable sites, this area is thought to contain
the buried remains of a wide variety of features related to the operation of
the villa, including further structures (built in timber and used for barns
and stables), yard surfaces, wells, kilns, ovens, threshing floors and
perhaps, given the limited size of the excavated example, further cemeteries.

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 its location in a ploughed field the villa east of Lodge Hill Farm is
considered to survive well, with clear evidence of its extent and condition
recorded from the air since 1962. The buried remains of the principal house
and other features will retain structural and artefactual evidence for the
function of the villa, the status of its inhabitants and the duration of its
occupation and use. The evidence of earlier occupation on the site in the Late
pre-Roman Iron Age is particularly significant for the study of the
development of settlement patterns in the region, and of the changes in Iron
Age society and economy brought about by Roman rule.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
St Joseph, J K, 'Journal of Roman Studies' in Air Reconnaissance in Britain, , Vol. 55, (1965), 88
Went, D, 'NHDC Field Arch Reports' in Little Wymondley Bypass, Herts: Archaeological Excavation 1991, , Vol. 15, (1992)
Wilson, D R, 'Britannia' in Romano-British Villas from the Air, (1974), 254-8
Wilson, D R, 'Britannia' in Romano-British Villas from the Air, (1974), 254-8
Ancient Monument Report AM107 (BU113), Paterson, H, Roman Villa east of Lodge Hill Farm, (1987)
AP plot (Bucks Museum), Allen, L, Lodge Hill Farm, Saunderton, (1979)
AP plot (Bucks Museum), Allen, L, Lodge Hill Farm, Saunderton, (1979)
copy held by Bucks Museums Service, CUCAP, BFL-3, (1971)
copy held by Bucks Museums, Whiteman, P, SU 79/99/01, (1973)
CUCAP, AFW-7 (1965), AGR-7 (1962), BFL-3 (1971),
CUCAP, AGR-7 (1962), AFW-7 (1965), BFL-3 (1971),
MPP Class Description, Ebbatson, L, Minor Villas (Romano-British), (1989)
Oblique AP (copy at Bucks Museums), Whiteman, P, SU 79/99/01, (1973)
Report held by Bucks Museums, Collard, M and Parkhouse, J, A Belgic/Romano-British Cemetery at Bledlow-cum-Saunderton, (1987)

Source: Historic England

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