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Roman villa and earlier settlement remains 1120m east of Harnhill Manor

A Scheduled Monument in Ampney St. Peter, Gloucestershire

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Latitude: 51.7034 / 51°42'12"N

Longitude: -1.8842 / 1°53'3"W

OS Eastings: 408097.823522

OS Northings: 200527.507392

OS Grid: SP080005

Mapcode National: GBR 3R7.4G1

Mapcode Global: VHB2S.9G70

Entry Name: Roman villa and earlier settlement remains 1120m east of Harnhill Manor

Scheduled Date: 18 February 2011

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1021448

English Heritage Legacy ID: 36058

County: Gloucestershire

Civil Parish: Ampney St. Peter

Traditional County: Gloucestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Gloucestershire

Church of England Parish: Driffield (including Harnhill)

Church of England Diocese: Gloucester


The monument includes a Romano-British villa and earlier settlements situated
on a gentle south facing slope overlooking the valley of the Ampney Brook.
The villa's presence was suggested by scattered remains at surface level, and
was confirmed by aerial photography and partial excavation in 1982. The
excavation revealed the remains of two rooms, one with the lower pilae of a
hypocaust and the other with a concrete floor and painted wall plaster. The
main villa building appears to be orientated roughly east to west and
measures approximately 55m long by 20m wide. The building survives as a
spread mound standing up to about 0.5m high covered by substantial quantities
of red pantile roof tiles and limestone blocks. There are at least four small
circular features to the west of the main villa. To the east and south of the
main villa building are at least two outbuildings; the one to the south
measures approximately 10m square, and the one to the east is approximately
50m long by 5m wide. Fifty metres south of the main villa site is a small
square building cropmark identified from aerial photography. A dense scatter
of tiles confirms that it had a tiled roof and this combined with its shape
and position suggests that it is very likely to represent the site of a
Roman-Celtic temple, with the elevations roughly facing compass points. In
addition to the remains of the villa and its associated features, there
appear to be several separate sites of earlier settlement. Immediately south
of the temple site is a large, double ditched rectilinear enclosure measuring
approximately 40m square. Approximately 180m west of the main villa site is
the location of a second double ditched rectilinear enclosure of roughly 40m
by 40m, and immediately east of this is a single ditched rectilinear
enclosure of 40m by 30m. Between these enclosures and the main villa site
there is evidence of various earthwork remains including probable pits and
Roman field systems. The discovery of water rounded cooking stones and
rubbing stones together with their plan-form suggests that these cropmarks
represent the remains of Iron Age enclosed farmsteads. Modern fencing along
field boundaries are excluded from the scheduling, but the ground below is

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

Despite ploughing, the Roman villa and earlier settlement remains 1120m east
of Harnhill Manor survive well, and the villa itself is likely to contain some
surviving mosaic, suggested by the discovery of some scattered tesserae at
ground level. Aerial photography and partial excavation have identified the
extent of this important settlement, which has evidence of progressive
occupation from Iron Age and Roman farmstead enclosures to the construction of
a substantial villa with associated temple. The location of the site close to
Cirencester, one of the largest towns in Roman Britain, and the high volume of
Roman remains in the district serve to enhance the importance of the settlemnt
sites at Harnhill.

Source: Historic England


Gloucestershire Sites and Monuments Record Area 2024,
Gloucestershire Sites and Monuments Record Area 2024,

Source: Historic England

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