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Roman villa 500m south east of Hill House Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Box, Wiltshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.4154 / 51°24'55"N

Longitude: -2.2557 / 2°15'20"W

OS Eastings: 382315.339827

OS Northings: 168515.471552

OS Grid: ST823685

Mapcode National: GBR 1RL.6JJ

Mapcode Global: VH96G.VPCB

Entry Name: Roman villa 500m south east of Hill House Farm

Scheduled Date: 22 July 1966

Last Amended: 11 April 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019189

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30299

County: Wiltshire

Civil Parish: Box

Built-Up Area: Box

Traditional County: Wiltshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Wiltshire

Church of England Parish: Box

Church of England Diocese: Bristol

Details

The monument includes the remains of a major Roman villa at Box which survive
as a series of buried deposits and a standing wall, situated on an east to
west terrace on the south side of a valley overlooking Box Brook.

Two partial excavations in 1902-1903 and 1967-1968 and a series of smaller
archaeological evaluations revealed three sides of a courtyard type villa
showing evidence of occupation between the second and fourth centuries AD and
with at least six phases of building. When initially constructed, the villa
comprised a central wing running for 45m on an ENE to WSW axis, with further
wings at either end running SSE for at least 30m and probably extending much
further. The walls were constructed of stone, up to 1m in width and the
building incorporated external corridors, mosaic floors, glazed windows and a
tiled roof. Given the manner in which the valley side drops away to the north,
the outer corridor to the central wing is likely to have been of two storeys,
with the basement acting as a service passage, whilst the insubstantial
foundations on the eastern wing suggest that on this side the outer passage
was colonnaded. Although there is evidence for a hypocaust underfloor heating
system, this appears to have been added in a later phase. There were several
episodes of demolition and rebuilding, the last of which took place in the
later third or early fourth century AD when the eastern wing was substantially
extended and a large apsidal room constructed on the north eastern corner. The
addition of new drainage features suggest that a bath house was also in use.
In its latter phases the villa represented a large and impressive range of
structures covering an area of at least 170m by 100m. An imported marble wall
tile and 20 mosaic floors dating from the second to fourth centuries AD
identified within the main complex demonstrate the high status of the villa
throughout its use.

A series of wall foundations, a drain and a boundary ditch towards the western
end of Church Lane and within the grounds of `The Wilderness' and `Box House'
relate directly to the main villa building and suggest that either a further
wing, or ancillary structures associated with an outer courtyard were located
on the western side of the complex.

Further deposits contemporary with and perhaps part of the villa are believed
to survive beyond the boundaries of the monument, especially to the south and
south east, but have not been included within the scheduling because of
uncertainties about their full extent and nature.

All fences, walls, modern services, standing buildings including `Box House
Cottage', `Spring Grove', `The Rectory' and `The Wilderness', which are all
Listed Buildings Grade II, garden fittings, the swimming pool and the surfaces
of all paths, areas of hardstanding and roads are excluded from the
scheduling, although the ground beneath all these features is included.

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 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 Roman villa at Box survive as a series of buried deposits
and standing walls. Several areas of the villa have remained undisturbed since
their abandonment and the survival of archaeological deposits relating to its
occupation and use is likely to be good. These deposits will contain important
information about the date, layout and economy of the villa and will provide
an opportunity to understand the mechanisms behind its development, decline
and eventual abandonment. The mosaic floors surviving within the core of the
villa complex represent one of the most extensive groups yet identified within
any building of the period in England.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Beaton, M, An Archaeological Evaluation of Grounds Adjacent to Box House, (1995)
Holyoak, V, Roman remains in the vicinity of Box House, (1999)
Matthews, T, Desk Based Assessment and Suggested Revised CA of Box Villa, (1997)
Matthews, T, Desk Based Assessment and Suggested Revised CA of Box Villa, (1997), 17
Matthews, T, Desk Based Assessment and Suggested Revised CA of Box Villa, (1997), 19
Brakspear, H, 'Wiltshire Archaeological Magazine' in The Roman Villa at Box, , Vol. XXXIII, (1904), 236-9
Hurst, H R, Dartnall, D L, Fisher, C, 'Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine' in Excavations at Box Roman Villa, 1967-8, , Vol. 81, (1987), 19-51
Other
Carless, C., Pers comm between Carless and Canham, (1996)
Report No. 36922.b (W 653), Box Roman Villa, Wiltshire 833: Archaeological Evaluation, (1994)
Wiltshire Rescue Archaeology Project (WRAP), Excavation Report (full title not known), (1989)

Source: Historic England

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