Ancient Monuments

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Roman building 270m north east of Priddy church

A Scheduled Monument in Priddy, Somerset

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Latitude: 51.2604 / 51°15'37"N

Longitude: -2.6736 / 2°40'24"W

OS Eastings: 353092.875657

OS Northings: 151465.648272

OS Grid: ST530514

Mapcode National: GBR MM.0VWK

Mapcode Global: VH89K.LLX4

Entry Name: Roman building 270m north east of Priddy church

Scheduled Date: 2 April 1965

Last Amended: 31 January 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015497

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29036

County: Somerset

Civil Parish: Priddy

Traditional County: Somerset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Somerset


The monument includes a Roman building, interpreted as part of a small or
minor villa, situated on a terrace on a north east facing slope, just above
the bottom of a shallow dry valley. Excavation has demonstrated that
archaeological remains survive below ground but no remains are visible on the
The site was the subject of trial excavations in 1964, which revealed traces
of a large masonry building. In the field rough walling was found, with Roman
fine and coarse pottery, hypocaust (under-floor heating) tiles, first to third
century AD coins, bronze brooches and glass. In the wood to the south, further
higher quality walling was found, having traces of coloured plaster on one
face. The wood is named `Little Blacklands' on the 19th century Tithe Map, a
name which may refer to dark soil indicating past occupation.
Excluded from the scheduling are the modern stone walls around the field and
wood, though 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

The site 270m north east of Priddy church has been demonstrated by trial
excavation to have good archaeological survival. It is one of a range of Roman
sites known from the Mendips, many of which are directly associated with the
lead mining industry.

Source: Historic England


OSAD Card ST55SW 57, (1966)
SMR site 25821, (1995)

Source: Historic England

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