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Romano-British villa at Randolph's Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Hurstpierpoint and Sayers Common, West Sussex

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Latitude: 50.9205 / 50°55'13"N

Longitude: -0.179 / 0°10'44"W

OS Eastings: 528090.160711

OS Northings: 115030.286606

OS Grid: TQ280150

Mapcode National: GBR JMX.9JK

Mapcode Global: FRA B6JN.S3J

Entry Name: Romano-British villa at Randolph's Farm

Scheduled Date: 16 February 1979

Last Amended: 5 September 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014948

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27071

County: West Sussex

Civil Parish: Hurstpierpoint and Sayers Common

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Sussex

Church of England Parish: Hurstpierpoint

Church of England Diocese: Chichester


The monument includes a smaller minor Romano-British villa situated on a low,
west facing clay rise c.300m south of the Roman road between Lewes and
Chichester. The villa, which survives in the form of buried remains, was
discovered during 19th century drainage works which will have caused some
disturbance to the monument. Part excavation between 1857-1858 and during the
1940s and 1950s revealed traces of a building interpreted as the main domestic
range c.0.3m beneath the ground. The excavated portion of the building covered
a roughly north-south aligned rectangular area of c.24.4m by c.9.1m. It was
constructed of mortared flint and tile walls above chalk foundations and was
divided into rooms with tessellated floors. The building was heated by a
hypocaust, or underfloor heating system, the furnace of which was found at the
southern end of the range.
Pottery found in association with the villa included sherds of high quality
samian ware, and the date of these suggests that the building was in use
during the first and second centuries AD. Investigations of similar monuments
elsewhere indicate that as yet unidentified buried structures which originally
formed part of the villa estate will survive in the areas around the main
The villa is crossed by part of a later, north west-south east aligned post
medieval coaching road leading from the Hurstpierpoint to Poynings Crossways
road (the modern B2117) to the manor house at Danny, situated c.400m to the
south east of the earlier villa. It survives as a low causeway c.3m wide. The
modern fences which cross the monument are excluded from the scheduling,
although the ground beneath them is included.

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 some disturbance by 19th century drainage works, the Romano-British
villa at Randolph's Farm survives well and has been shown by part excavation
to contain information relating to the construction and use of the monument.

Source: Historic England

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