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Newport Roman Villa

A Scheduled Monument in Newport, Isle of Wight

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Coordinates

Latitude: 50.6944 / 50°41'39"N

Longitude: -1.2917 / 1°17'30"W

OS Eastings: 450120.120246

OS Northings: 88547.516052

OS Grid: SZ501885

Mapcode National: GBR 8BJ.B7M

Mapcode Global: FRA 8757.QL3

Entry Name: Newport Roman Villa

Scheduled Date: 14 April 1953

Last Amended: 22 July 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015621

English Heritage Legacy ID: 22064

County: Isle of Wight

Civil Parish: Newport

Built-Up Area: Newport

Traditional County: Hampshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Isle of Wight

Church of England Parish: Newport St John the Baptist

Church of England Diocese: Portsmouth

Details

The monument includes a Roman villa situated on the east-facing slope of a
gentle rise above the west bank of the River Medina.
The villa, which is aligned north east-south west and has an entrance on its
south side, includes two wings with a corridor joining them. The villa
is much restored, but shows the original arrangement of a bath-house and
furnace in the south west wing with further rooms to the north east, one of
which incorporated a hypocaust. These features have been revealed and their
extent recorded by part excavation. The principal rooms are covered by a
building also housing a collection of finds.
The villa is of winged-corridor type, a single storey building with a corridor
or verandah at the front between two projecting wings. From the evidence of
excavation, it was thought to be c.30m long and c.12m wide. The walls were
originally of limestone, chalk rubble and flint nodules within a matrix of
lime mortar, but for special features such as cornerstones, door jambs and
roofing slabs, Bembridge Limestone was used. The external walling has been
reconstructed and raised to c.0.5m with building debris. Quantities of
brightly painted wall plaster were found by the excavators of the villa. The
south west wing was dedicated to a bath building. This includes a cold plunge
bath or `Frigidarium' and warm room or `Tepidarium', the central warm room or
`Sudatorium', and the hot bath or `Caldarium', with an adjoining furnace which
served the hypocaust. Two original fragments of mosaic exist in the
`Frigidarium', and one in the adjoining `Apodyterium'. From excavation it was
found that enough pilae remained to mark their position in the three heated
bath rooms, and a reconstruction was attempted. In the room adjacent to the
bath suite part of a tessellated floor and a fire place remain in their
original positions. In the north east wing the southern room retains
the base of steps up to the raised floor of the destroyed hypocaust, and
has a stoke hole in its east wall. On the south side of the villa two sections
of external wall still remain buried.
In the late 3rd century the hypocaust arch of the bath range was blocked up,
presumably so that the baths could serve an alternative function. One of the
rooms appears to have been used as the principle apartment, and a fireplace
constructered in it. During the latter years of the villa's life the floors of
the eastern rooms were taken up, and one of these rooms used as a blacksmith's
shop. In the corner of one of the rooms the skull of a woman was found, and in
an adjacent room a pair of bronze bracelets.
The presence of a villa was first indicated in 1926, when Roman tiles were
found in an area being developed for housing. Mr A Sherwin, the Honorary
Curator of Carisbrooke Castle Museum was called to examine them, and following
the discovery of the tiles a portion of mosaic was uncovered. The site was
subsequently excavated in 1926 by P G Stone who revealed its plan and dated
the villa to c.200 AD. Under the villa the excavators discovered a ditch dated
by pottery to the 1st century AD., and a circular depression in the corner of
one of the rooms suggesting the presence of a grain storage pit or well. A
temporary structure was then erected over the site.
Excavations in 1981 and 1982, during the erection of the site museum, revealed
further evidence of activity dating from the late 1st century AD to the 2nd
century AD which included the post holes of a building and salt making
vessels. The 1981 excavation provided new pottery evidence that the villa was
not built until the late 3rd century AD.
In October 1991 an excavation was carried out by the Isle of Wight County
Council in order to determine the cause of excessive humidity within the
building which covered the monument and to determine the monument's surviving
stratigraphy. It was determined during the excavation that although much of
the stratigraphy within the villa was destroyed during the 1926 excavation,
stratification abutting the outside of the villa walls does survive at least
in some places along its length.
Also during the 1991 excavation, an earlier prehistoric feature resting on
the natural subsoil was located and excavated. This feature contained flecks
of charcoal and fired clay. Forty pieces of flint debitage were also
recovered.
Other associated finds have come from the vicinity of the villa. Excavation
for a sewer trench, 37m to the south of the villa, revealed part of a precinct
wall showing that the villa faced south onto a courtyard; near the junction of
Avondale Road and Medina Avenue, portions of a hypocaust were found in 1933,
which possibly indicate a second bath house of the villa.
The modern structure which covers and protects the monument, electrical
fittings, display cases, modern panels and other fixtures and fittings, are
excluded from the scheduling, but the ground beneath them is included. The
drying oven displayed in front of the exhibition building is from a site at
Newchurch and is therefore not included in the scheduling.

MAP EXTRACT
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
important.

Excavations conducted at Newport Villa in the 1920s provided details of its
layout and development between at least the third and fourth millennia AD,
while evidence was also found suggesting earlier prehistoric use of the site.
Recent part excavations have demonstrated that archaeological remains still
survive.
The Newport villa, which acts as the nucleus for finds of other Romano-British
material in the vicinity, is one of seven to have been identified on the
island, and thus is integral to an understanding of the Romano-British period
on the Isle of Wight.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Tomalin, D J, Newport Roman Villa Excavation, (1975), 15
Tomalin, D J, Roman Wight: A Guide Catalogue, (1987), 16-17
Tomalin, D J, Newport Roman Villa Excavation, (1975), 24
Tomalin, D J, Newport Roman Villa Excavation, (1975), 18-19
Tomalin, D J, Newport Roman Villa Excavation, (1975), 24-25
Tomalin, D J, Newport Roman Villa Excavation, (1975), 11
Tomalin, D J, Newport Roman Villa Excavation, (1975), 15
Tomalin, D J, Newport Roman Villa Excavation, (1975), 2
Tomalin, D J, Roman Wight: A Guide Catalogue, (1987), 16-17
Tomalin, D J, Roman Wight: A Guide Catalogue, (1987), 16
Tomalin, D J, Roman Wight: A Guide Catalogue, (1987), 15
Tomalin, D J, Roman Wight: A Guide Catalogue, (1987), 14-15
Other
Basford, F., Newport Roman Villa Excavation - 1991, (1992)
Basford, F., Newport Roman Villa Excavation - 1991, (1992)
Basford, F., Newport Roman Villa Excavation - 1991, (1992)
Basford, F., Newport Roman Villa Excavation - 1991, (1992)
Basford, F., Newport Roman Villa Excavation - 1991, (1992)
Basford, F., Newport Roman Villa Excavation - 1991, (1992)
Basford, F., Newport Roman Villa Excavation - 1991, (1992)
Basford, F., Newport Roman Villa Excavation - 1991, (1992)
inf OS F.I. 1967, Basford, V., Isle of Wight SMR, (1981)
Sherwin G. A., Archaeological Survey of the Isle of Wight: Roman Volume, 1936, Unpublished mss Soc of Ants Library
SMR Nos 1, 2, 5, 14, 15, 16, Tomalin, D. J., Isle of Wight County Council,
SMR Nos 18, 41, Tomalin, D J, Isle of Wight County Council,

Source: Historic England

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