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Romano-British villa 560m north east of East Creech Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Church Knowle, Dorset

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Latitude: 50.6446 / 50°38'40"N

Longitude: -2.0934 / 2°5'36"W

OS Eastings: 393488.395905

OS Northings: 82773.078488

OS Grid: SY934827

Mapcode National: GBR 33D.KK2

Mapcode Global: FRA 67HC.Q7Q

Entry Name: Romano-British villa 560m north east of East Creech Farm

Scheduled Date: 22 July 1964

Last Amended: 2 January 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014841

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28328

County: Dorset

Civil Parish: Church Knowle

Traditional County: Dorset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Dorset

Church of England Parish: Wareham Lady St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Salisbury


The monument includes a Romano-British villa situated upon a low chalk
ridge at the northern foot of the Purbeck Hills.

The site of the Roman villa was first identified following ploughing in 1869,
when Roman pottery and structural remains were identified. Historical records
and the evidence of aerial photography indicate that the complex included two
stone founded structures, both situated on a low ridge aligned east-west.
The southern building is aligned east-west and has approximate dimensions of
c.40m by c.20m. The north eastern building has dimensions of c.20m by c.20m.
The two buildings are set at right angles and are likely to have been arranged
around a courtyard, occupying the area to the north west of the structures.
The site of the villa has been recorded by the Ordnance Survey since 1887,
following the identification of Roman coins, pottery and other remains during
ploughing operations in 1885. In 1869 a stone column and Roman pottery, shale
fragments, mortar and painted wall plaster were unearthed by ploughing. The
column, which included a base and capital, had dimensions of 1.2m in height
and 0.12m in width. This is likely to have originally formed part of a
colonnade or portico associated with one of the Roman buildings.

In 1888, part excavations by L Pike identified a tesserated pavement composed
of a red tile border with an interior of white stones. This was contained
within a room with dimensions of c.3m square. A second room c.3.5m square was
also discovered and was found to contain a similar tesserated pavement.
The area has produced building masonry, including heathstone and Purbeck
limestone, clay roof and flue tiles, pottery, shale waste, limestone tesserae
and wall plaster. The finds suggest an occupation period during the second-
fourth centuries AD. The adjacent downland is likely to have been used for the
grazing of stock and a pastoral based economy is most probable. The presence
of a number of shale amulets, bracelet cores and associated debris indicates
that shale working was also an important activity.

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 Romano-British villa 560m north east of East Creech Farm survives
comparatively well and is known from part excavation to contain archaeological
and environmental evidence relating to the monument and the landscape in which
it was constructed.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 596
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 596
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 595
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 596
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 596
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 596
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 595
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 596
Date of finds,
Dimensions of column,
Finds from surrounding area,
Finds of 1885,
Finds of surounding area,
Interpretation of colonnade/portico,
Recognition by OS in 1887,
Site recognised by Os in 1887,
Size of stone column,
Tesserated pavement found in 1888,
Tesserated pavement found in 1888,
Two stone structures,
Two structures identified,

Source: Historic England

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