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Roman villa 300m south east of Newton Lodge Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Newton Blossomville, Milton Keynes

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Latitude: 52.1539 / 52°9'14"N

Longitude: -0.6681 / 0°40'5"W

OS Eastings: 491220.639424

OS Northings: 251464.197583

OS Grid: SP912514

Mapcode National: GBR F05.ZWZ

Mapcode Global: VHFQ4.C4P4

Entry Name: Roman villa 300m south east of Newton Lodge Farm

Scheduled Date: 25 July 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014794

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27158

County: Milton Keynes

Civil Parish: Newton Blossomville

Traditional County: Buckinghamshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Buckinghamshire

Church of England Parish: Newton Blossomville

Church of England Diocese: Oxford


The monument includes the buried remains of a Romano-British villa complex
located within an arable field on a broad spur of slightly raised ground to
the south of the River Ouse, between Clifton Reynes and Newton Blossomville.

Cropmarks representing wall foundations, ditches, pits and other features,
were first photographed from the air in the early 1960s, and have since been
recorded in greater detail, providing evidence for a group of buildings set
within a series of enclosures covering about 1.5ha. The site is also
recognisable on the ground, marked by an expanse of dark soil and
concentrations of pottery, tile and building stone brought to the surface by
ploughing. A fieldwalking survey undertaken in the late 1980s by a local
archaeological group further defined the area of the site and in the process
collected datable material (coins and pottery) which indicated occupation
between the second and fourth centuries AD. This survey also suggested earlier
activity in the late pre-Roman Iron Age (c.50 BC to AD 43). The building
materials collected or recorded at this time provide valuable information
about the construction of the principal structures and include limestone
blocks from the walls, tiles from the floors and roofs, and flue tiles from an
underfloor heating system, or hypocaust.

The principal range of buildings is clearly visible in the aerial record,
lying some 300m to the south east of the large barn at Newton Lodge Farm and
extending for approximately 70m south west to north east along a slight rise
in the field. At the south western end of this range lie the foundations of
a large rectangular structure, c.8m by 20m, with evidence of internal
partitions. Such simple buildings may be the earliest type of Romano-British
villa. A rectangular walled courtyard extends c.16m northwards from the
western half of this building and contains a smaller oblong structure (12m by
4m) set at right angles to the larger building. The rest of the range
continues as a line of square and rectangular structures extending from the
north east of the larger house. This range may be a single building, c.45m in
length and sub-divided into individual rooms, or perhaps three or four
separate buildings aligned together. Within this range, some 10m from the
larger house, are the remains of a circular building which was evidently part
of the overall construction. The presence of flue tiles on the site has
prompted the suggestion that this room served as a bath house, with a furnace
room taking up part of the remainder of the range.

A second circular structure lies some 50m to the north west of the main villa
buildings. This was partly excavated in 1990 and 1991 revealing the base of
a rubble wall, c.9m in diameter and faced with dressed limestone blocks.
Fragments of samian ware (high quality Roman pottery) were found in
association with a rubble and mortar floor contained within the structure, and
a fourth century coin was discovered in the fill of one of the post holes for
the roof supports. This round house represents an interesting example of a
building type occasionally found by excavation elsewhere in the country -
similar in design to the indigenous timber round houses, but constructed in
stone and clearly contemporary with the more `Romanised' structures
immediately to the south east.

The pattern of ditched enclosures surrounding the villa buildings is thought
to demonstrate a prolonged period of development. The building range lies in
the centre of a group of three rectilinear enclosures which continue c.50m to
the west and 60m to the east. However, the range is aligned diagonally across
this pattern and overlies sections of the boundary ditches. Villas were
frequently constructed to enhance or supersede earlier Iron Age forms of
settlement, dwellings or farmsteads, and the aerial evidence for this site
together with the discovery of Iron Age coins and pottery on the surface of
the field clearly implies such a sequence here. The eastern enclosure measures
approximately 50m square and abuts the building range at its north western
corner. This appears to have been retained unaltered, whereas the other two
main enclosures (particulary the central enclosure which contains the villa
buildings) show signs of adaptation to the orientation of the villa buildings.
Both are transected by a long boundary feature (either a ditch or a wall)
which runs parallel to the building range. The western enclosure contains
several sub-divisions and a number of smaller features, which may relate
either to the villa or the earlier settlement. The most prominent of these are
two circular areas of dark silt located at the junctions of ditches and
believed to be infilled ponds. Three similar features, also linked to an array
of ditches and gullies, lie within the southern part of the central enclosure.
These lie close to a large ring ditch, c.18m across, which appears to be
overlain by later boundary ditches, and is thought to be either the foundation
trench for the main house of the earlier settlement, or a drainage gulley
encircling such a structure.

The enclosure boundaries extend in a south westerly direction from the
principal building range and correspond with the position of a number of
features revealed by recent cleaning of the sides of a drainage ditch flanking
the southern field boundary. These features extend along the ditch sides over
a distance of approximately 60m from a point c.123m from the south western
corner of the field, and include a number of ditches and pits, stone-packed
wall foundations, and a dense surface of limestone rubble resting on the
natural clay beneath the topsoil which is thought to be either collapsed wall
material or the surface of a trackway. These features have not been traced to
the south of the old railway line on the southern side of the ditch, although
the slight railway embankment itself will have served to enhance their

The old ground surface beneath the embankment is therefore included in the
scheduling, although the material of the embankment itself and the gravel
track along its top are excluded.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 5 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

Despite its location in ploughland, the villa 300m south east of Newton Lodge
Farm is considered to survive well. Clear evidence for the extent of the
complex and the design of the principal building range is provided by aerial
photographs, and limited excavation has demonstrated the preservation of
buried structural remains in good condition.

The site is particularly valuable as it provides an opportunity to study the
the relationship of the Roman settlement to the earlier occupation of the site
in the Iron Age, which is indicated in the pattern of enclosures and by the
range of datable material retrieved from the field surface. The monument as a
whole will contain evidence for the organisation, development and duration of
the settlement during both these periods; reflecting domestic life, farming
practices and the local environment at the time - evidence for which will be
contained in deposits associated with the buildings, in the ditches
surrounding the enclosures, and in other deeply dug, buried features such as
pits, ponds and wells. The site has additional interest as part of the wider
landscape of the Ouse Valley, providing evidence for the development of
settlement patterns between the Iron Age and Roman periods, and allowing
insights into the changes in Iron Age society and economy brought about by
Roman rule.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Potter, T W, Johns, C, Roman Britain, (1992), 92
Bucks Museum Service AP plot, Allen, L, Compilation of Aerial Evidence, (1979)
conversation with landowner, Davis, M, Location of Quern Stones, (1995)
CUCAP, ADO 79, 80, (1961)
CUCAP, AGH 14, (1962)
CUCAP, BZZ 87, 90, 93, (1976)
Martin, B, Rines Hill, 1990, Unpublished finds plot (SMR 1953)
Martin, B, Rines Hill, Clifton Reynes, 1990, unpublished finds plot (SMR 1953)
Martin, B, Rines Hill, Clifton Reynes, 1990, unpublished section (SMR 1953)
Meade, J, Roman Occupation in Olney & District, 1995, Undergrad thesis. Uni Warwick
Meade, J, Roman Occupation in Olney & District, 1995, Undergrad thesis. Uni Warwick
Ousedale Arch Group (copy in SMR), Martin, B, Rines Hill, Clifton Reynes, (1990)
unpublished section (SMR 1953), Went, D, North facing section of S field drain - Newton Lodge Farm Villa, (1995)
unpublished section (SMR 1953), Went, D, North facing section of S field drain - Newton Lodge Farm Villa, (1995)

Source: Historic England

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