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Roman settlement at Bays Meadow

A Scheduled Monument in Droitwich Spa, Worcestershire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.273 / 52°16'22"N

Longitude: -2.1505 / 2°9'1"W

OS Eastings: 389826.458165

OS Northings: 263883.275628

OS Grid: SO898638

Mapcode National: GBR 1F8.H3R

Mapcode Global: VH92G.N4ZB

Entry Name: Roman settlement at Bays Meadow

Scheduled Date: 8 April 1954

Last Amended: 28 January 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020620

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30093

County: Worcestershire

Civil Parish: Droitwich Spa

Built-Up Area: Droitwich

Traditional County: Worcestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Worcestershire

Church of England Parish: Droitwich Spa

Church of England Diocese: Worcester

Details

The monument includes the known extent of the buried remains of a Roman
villa and its associated settlement remains in Bays Meadow. It is located on
rising ground to the north of the Roman town known as Salinae, (modern
Droitwich), so-called because of its association with the production of salt.
It lies to the west of the Roman fort at Dodderhill which is the subject of a
separate scheduling. Roman remains, including two tessellated pavements, were
first revealed during the construction of the now disused railway line in 1849
and excavations were carried out during the 1920s, 1950s and 1960s. These
early excavations demonstrated that several buildings occupied the site and
during the third century AD a substantial ditched rampart protected the site.
More recent excavations, in advance of development, have found Roman remains
including ditches, which are believed to be part of the field system
associated with the villa.

During the second century AD there were two houses of winged corridor type set
at right angles to each other. The larger house was the most opulent and had
18 rooms including evidence of wall plaster, a hypocaust system that allowed
warm air from a furnace to heat the walls and floors, and a possible bath
house. A wide variety of artefactual evidence from the site of the larger
house, including jewellery and imported decorated furniture, was of very
high status suggesting that its occupants may have benefited from the wealth
generated by salt production in the area.

During the third century a double ditch and bank, including flat bottomed
ditches some 4.5m wide and 3m apart with an internal clay bank 3m high, was
constructed enclosing the northern edge of the site. Later in the third
century the area was re-planned and additional buildings, including an aisled
building with a pair of T-shaped corn drying kilns and a well, were
constructed. To the north west of the houses was a large paved area. The corn
drying kilns went out of use during the Roman period, and later Roman rubbish
pits were subsequently dug in the area. The villa was destroyed by fire at the
end of the third century, and the area was reoccupied during the fourth
century. This occupation continued until the fifth century.

Beyond the main building complex, further features relating to the settlement
were recorded by excavation. These included a cobbled road with drainage
ditches which led away from the site in a north westerly direction, and other
drainage ditches and rubbish pits. In addition, evidence of industrial
activity included at least three hearths, a limekiln and a mosaic workshop.

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 Roman settlement at Bays Meadow has been demonstrated by excavations to
survive well, with a variety of settlement remains dating from the mid-second
century AD until the end of the Roman occupation of Britain in the fifth
century. The different phases of occupation and buildings will demonstrate
changing fashions and technologies throughout the Roman period. Evidence about
the agricultural regime is provided by the corn drying kilns, ditches and
associated field system, whilst other remains illustrate industrial activity
including a mosaic workshop. The sophistication of the villa and high status
artefactual evidence, including imported luxury goods, suggest that the
occupants were wealthy and were perhaps associated with the profitable salt
production in the area. The site therefore gives an insight into their
lifestyle, trade and connections. Environmental evidence from the fills of the
wells, ditches and kilns will provide information about the diet and standard
of living of the occupants and the natural environment surrounding the site
during the Roman period.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
BUFAU, , 'BUFAU report' in Evaluation at Bays Meadow, (1996)
Woodiwiss, , Hurst, , 'CAServices report' in Evaluation at Wolsey Bays Medow, , Vol. 437, (1996)
Other
Gelling, P S, Excavations In Bays Meadow, 1957, (1954)

Source: Historic England

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