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Romano-British villa, with cemetery and associated building, at Batten Hanger, 600m south east of Hill Lands Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Elsted and Treyford, West Sussex

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Latitude: 50.9326 / 50°55'57"N

Longitude: -0.8375 / 0°50'14"W

OS Eastings: 481789.886876

OS Northings: 115437.779709

OS Grid: SU817154

Mapcode National: GBR CD6.K2K

Mapcode Global: FRA 964M.TW1

Entry Name: Romano-British villa, with cemetery and associated building, at Batten Hanger, 600m south east of Hill Lands Farm

Scheduled Date: 23 February 2011

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1021457

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28896

County: West Sussex

Civil Parish: Elsted and Treyford

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Sussex

Church of England Parish: Elsted St Paul

Church of England Diocese: Chichester


The monument includes a Romano-British villa, a Romano-British mixed
inhumation and cremation cemetery and a small Romano-British building
(identified as a temple or mausoleum), all on a gently sloping south-facing
dry valley on the South Downs 11.2km (7 miles) north of Chichester, in three
separate areas of protection.

The villa is aligned north-south and includes at least two ranges of building
facing a courtyard and a large precinct to the north of the villa. The whole
villa is defined by a surrounding buried ditch. The north and west ranges
have been partially excavated, but no east range is yet identified. To the
north of the villa geophysical survey has identified a circular feature and a
rectangular feature within the area of the villa precinct.

The villa comprises four phases of building possibly starting in the late
first century AD. Most of these phases relate to the north range. By the mid
second century to mid third century the north range had the flint footing of
what was probably a timber-framed building which may have been an unfinished
corridor villa. At this time beneath the west end on the north range were the
traces of a substantial masonry and timber-framed building, aligned
north-south, 20m long and 12m wide with a courtyard to the south.

By the mid to late third century an aisled building 40m long and 15m wide was
positioned so that its long south side faced down the valley. In its west end
was a suite of at least six rooms, and at the east end of the building a bath
house with a mosaic floor.

In the fourth century occupation of the aisled building continued and the
west range was extended southwards in at least three phases of building to
extend for some 65m with a terrace of rooms.

By the fifth century the aisled building in the north range had been replaced
by a large hall 32m long and 11m wide with masonry side walls and timber
uprights every 4m. The east gable wall, which may have been 12m high, had
fallen in almost complete section and was composed of courses of flint and
stone with decorative tile and chalk pilasters and a string course of Roman
tile. The bath house may have continued in use as a freestanding building. A
grave aligned north-south was found 10m south of the south-west angle of the
villa's enclosure ditch, and contained two inhumations.

Approximately 250m to the north of the villa are the remains of a small
rectangular building, about 6m by 7m. This is thought to be a small
Romano-British mausoleum or temple.

A mixed cremation and inhumation cemetery lies approximately 290m north of
the villa and approximately 115m west of the small rectangular mausoleum or
temple. The cemetery was discovered by a farm worker in 2003, who found three
Roman pots close to a badger sett approximately 290m north of the villa site.
Investigation found at least five more ceramic vessels and two of glass as
well as portions of a human arm and skull. Further investigation was
prevented by the protection afforded to the badgers.

The villa was discovered by ploughing in 1971, and in 1975 woodland to the
west of the villa was cleared and a flint wall found. In 1985 ploughing
revealed a large expanse of Roman pottery and tile, and in 1988-1991 the
Chichester District Archaeological Unit carried out evaluation by trial

In 2006 the Institute of Archaeology, University College London carried out a
geophysical survey of an area to the north of the villa and an excavation
which revealed agricultural activity to the north of the villa buildings and
a significant amount of slag from blacksmithing activities.

All fencing and fence posts are excluded from the scheduling, but the ground
beneath them is included.

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 courtyard villa at Batten Hanger survives well. Excavations in the
late 1980s and early 1990s revealing the fabric of the villa have shown the
ground plan of the villa is well preserved with strong evidence of multiple
phases of development. Much of the villa and associated complex remain
unexcavated and therefore the site retains a high degree of potential for
further investigation, particularly in its association with the
Romano-British cemetery and Romano-Celtic temple. Firm evidence for fifth
century occupancy is exceptional, and of great interest. The unexcavated
areas will contain information on the construction and evolution of the site
and its associated landscape. The site will also hold valuable environmental
and archaeological information relating to the Roman occupation of West

The Romano-Celtic temple at Batten Hanger survives well and will provide
archaeological and environmental information relating to its development and
evolution and also its relationship to the cemetery, the villa and the
landscape in which it was built.

The Romano-British cemetery appears to survive well although its full extent
is not known. It will contain archaeological information and environmental
evidence relating to the local Romano-British population and burial
practices, and to its relationship with the associated temple, villa and
agrarian landscape.

Source: Historic England

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