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Roman villa 200m south of Station Cottages

A Scheduled Monument in Tilton on the Hill and Halstead, Leicestershire

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Latitude: 52.6543 / 52°39'15"N

Longitude: -0.9123 / 0°54'44"W

OS Eastings: 473676.002273

OS Northings: 306839.145315

OS Grid: SK736068

Mapcode National: GBR BQ6.J5G

Mapcode Global: WHFKK.YKR0

Entry Name: Roman villa 200m south of Station Cottages

Scheduled Date: 16 November 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018352

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30242

County: Leicestershire

Civil Parish: Tilton on the Hill and Halstead

Traditional County: Leicestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Leicestershire

Church of England Parish: Lowesby (Whatborough Parishes)

Church of England Diocese: Leicester


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a Roman villa 200m
south of Station Cottages identified by aerial photography, geophysical survey
and part excavation.

The earthworks principally consist of banks up to 3m in width and 0.6m in
height defining a rectangular area measuring approximately 65m by 75m
internally. Limited evaluation carried out during field drainage work in 1980
showed the banks to be largely comprised of building debris and rubble from
collapsed stone walls, the lower courses of which survive intact as buried
features. The walls are believed to have enclosed a courtyard forming the
focal point of the villa. Intermittent traces of linear earthworks running
parallel with the northern and eastern sides of the courtyard may possibly be
part of a secondary, outer enclosure which has been identified elsewhere by
geophysical surveys which indicate its survival as a buried feature, probably
in the form of stone wall foundations. A sub-circular bulge in the centre of
the north western bank is considered to represent the remains of an ancillary
building against the inner enclosure wall. A break in the bank approximately
8m in width immediately east of this building possibly indicates an original
entrance, as does a 6m gap in the centre of the western bank. A widening in
the south eastern side of the bank is also thought to indicate the presence of
a structure against the inner enclosure wall on this side. Immediately north
east of this, geophysical survey suggests the existence of a further range of
buildings continuing from the south eastern corner of the enclosure for at
least 30m. These structures are orientated on a WSW - ENE axis and appear to
comprise at least three adjoining rooms, each approximately 10m square.
Geophysical survey also indicated the existence of two parallel linear
features approximately 10m apart and continuing from the south eastern corner
of the enclosure on a north west-south east axis for roughly 30m. These
correspond with a linear earthwork bank on a similar orientation and may be a
continuation of the enclosure wall in this direction or some form of field
boundary, possibly delineating a paddock or garden. A rectangular mound up to
35m in length, 10m in width and 0.6m in height situated approximately 10m
north east of and parallel with the western enclosure wall is thought to be
the location of a building within the courtyard. Fragments of stone, brick,
tiles, plaster and tesserae disturbed by animal burrowing in the area of the
mound suggest a substantial, high status structure containing a tessellated
pavement. Trenching for drainage in 1980 also recovered large quantities of
burnt stone and slate, which in addition to numbers of flue tiles across the
site suggests that the villa contained a hypocaust central heating system.

A low bank approximately 10m in width with a pair of parallel linear
depressions 18m apart on its eastern side runs from the northern side of the
monument on a NNW-SSE axis. Given the proximity and orientation of these
features in relation to the gap in the northern earthwork bank it is likely
that they are contemporary with the villa and possibly comprise a field track
or causeway providing the main access and associated drainage ditches. A
sub-rectangular depression 19m in length, 9m in width and 0.6m in depth
situated 30m west of the track is thought to be a pond. The orientation of
this feature in relation to the trackway and enclosure wall suggests that it
is contemporary with them.

The variety and form of flue tiles, roof tiles and pottery recovered from the
area of the villa are indicative of a multi-phase structure continuing in use
over some period of time. Examination of pottery suggests that the villa was
inhabited between the 2nd-4th centuries AD.

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 found throughout lowland Britain and between 400 and 1000
examples have been recorded in England. Of these less than 10 are examples of
`major' villas. These were the largest, most substantial and opulent type of
villa which were built and used by a small but extremely wealthy section of
Romano-British society. 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. All major villas will be identified as nationally important.

The remains of the villa 200m south of Station Cottages, visible as they are
as substantial earthworks, represent a particularly rare survival.
They survive well with only limited disturbance. As a result of archaeological
survey and limited excavation carried out during field drainage work the
remains are quite well understood, and provide a good opportunity for
understanding the usage and development of a high status Roman building within
a rural context. The application of non-destructive methods of archaeological
investigation to the monument has further enabled the character and extent of
the remains to be determined to a relatively high degree. An understanding of
this monument will therefore contribute to our knowledge of Roman settlement
in general, both within the region and beyond.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Hartley, R F, Cold Newton, (1982)
Lucas, J, Tile Report, (1983)
Williams, V, Dot Matrix Resistivity Plot of Roman Site at Cold Newton, (1982)
Liddle, P, 'Transactions of the Leices Archaeological and Historical Society' in Cold Newton, , Vol. 55, (1980)
Clamp, H., Roman Pottery Report, (1980)
Dr RJ Pollard, Identification of Roman Pottery, (1983)
Leicestershire Museums Service, Site Summary Sheet: 70 NW.N,
RCHME, NMR Short Report: UID 964659,
Voss, J., (1997)
Williams, V., Drain Lines/Finds at Cold Newton Villa, (1982)
Williams, V., Letters from Vaughan Williams to Peter Liddle, (1980)
Williams, V., Resistivity Plot of Roman Site at Cold Newton, (1982)

Source: Historic England

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