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Roman villa and earlier settlement remains in Badminton Park, 340m south of Hinnegar Lodges

A Scheduled Monument in Sopworth, Wiltshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.5695 / 51°34'10"N

Longitude: -2.2743 / 2°16'27"W

OS Eastings: 381084.309786

OS Northings: 185659.222642

OS Grid: ST810856

Mapcode National: GBR 0N9.FV4

Mapcode Global: VH95P.JTJ6

Entry Name: Roman villa and earlier settlement remains in Badminton Park, 340m south of Hinnegar Lodges

Scheduled Date: 19 June 2009

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1021415

English Heritage Legacy ID: 36041

County: Wiltshire

Civil Parish: Sopworth

Traditional County: Gloucestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Wiltshire

Church of England Parish: Hawkesbury St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Gloucester

Details

The monument includes a Roman villa and earlier settlement situated on a
gently rolling plateaux within Badminton Park. The villa lies within the much
larger Grade I registered parkland around Badminton House.

The Roman villa's presence was first suggested by a scatter of pottery and
roof slabs. Its character and extent was confirmed by geophysical survey
followed by partial excavation, which revealed a substantial and relatively
complete mosaic which is geometric in design and believed to date between
AD360 and 380. The villa building itself is 55m long by 20m wide and faces
ESE. The northern end of the building is denoted by an apse in which the
excavated mosaic survives, whilst the southern end may be a bathhouse.
Excavations have confirmed that the original Roman plaster survives attached
to the remaining walls and that the building was abandoned following a
catastrophic fire.

To the east of the main building are at least two outbuildings each measuring
approximately 20m long by 12m wide. Between these buildings are the possible
remains of garden features. A further building lies a short distance from
the southern outbuilding, but because it overlies the ditch surrounding the
villa complex it is not known whether this structure belongs to the Roman
period. The whole of the villa complex is surrounded by a 1.5m wide boundary
ditch forming a trapezium shaped enclosure. In the eastern corner of this
villa enclosure is a small paddock.

At least five small circular features together with two larger oval shaped
enclosures and a small number of linear ditches surviving within and adjacent
to the villa enclosure may represent the site of a pre-Roman settlement. The
geophysical survey also revealed a series of parallel bands of high and low
resistance trending from north-west to south-east and extending over most of
the villa complex. These probably represent the remains of medieval ridge
and furrow ploughing.

The surface of the estate road leading through the monument is excluded from
the scheduling, but the ground below is included.

MAP EXTRACT
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 10 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 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.

Despite ploughing, the Roman villa in Badminton Park survives very well and
is known to contain at least one very well preserved mosaic together with
information relating to the construction and demise of the complex.
Geophysical survey combined with partial excavation has clearly illustrated
the character and extent of this important settlement.

Evidence for earlier settlement on the same site strongly suggests that there
maybe more chronological depth than the excavations have already suggested.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Martin, M, Martin, J, Jackson, A, Badminton - a geophysical survey, (2003)
Osgood, R, 'Council for British Archaeology South-West' in The Roman Mosaic at Badminton, , Vol. 12, (2004), 28-9

Source: Historic England

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