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Historic England Research Records

Woodchester Villa

Hob Uid: 115125
Location :
Gloucestershire
Stroud
Woodchester
Grid Ref : SO8396003110
Summary : The site of a huge Roman villa of a courtyard plan. It was excavated in 1793 by Samuel Lysons and at least 64 rooms grouped around inner and outer courts were revealed. It is famous for the discovery of the Orpheus Mosaic which is nearly 49 feet square. This has been occasionally exposed for public inspection. Building activity dates to the 2nd, 3rd and 4th centuries. Finds from the villa, including pottery have been donated to Stroud Museum.
More information : (SO 83960311) ROMAN VILLA (R) (Site of) (1)

The existence of the pavements of the Woodchester Roman villa was first noted in 1693 (2). They were uncovered by Edmund Brown in 1712 and 1722, and drawings made by Richard Bradley. During the remainder of the 18th century much damage was done by burials in the churchyard beneath which the remains lay (3). In 1793 excavations by Samuel Lysons revealed a sumptuous courtyard villa of 64 rooms grouped around inner and outer courts. The building sequence is unknown, but the famous Orpheus mosaic, nearly 49 ft square, probably dates from the 4th century (4). Finds, included coins from Hadrian to Valens (5). The floors were reburied by Lysons (6), and are uncovered for public inspection every few years (4). Finds from the villa and vicinity are preserved in Stroud Museum. (2-7)

There are no visible remains of the villa (some Ro brick is built into the ruins of the church nearby SO 80 SW9). The site of the Orpheus mosaic is indicated on the OS 25" and consists of a sunken rectangle 11.0m x 13.0m in the churcyard; grass covered. (8)

Excavations in 1973 revealed what seems to have been the eastern range of the outer courtyard, and confirmed a long and complex history for the villa, with evidence of building activity in the
2nd, 3rd and 4th centuries. Very little Roman material was found
in "Lawn Field", west of the villa; just a few sherds and the well known stone water channel which feeds a well north of the villa and has always been presumed Roman, though it could be later. (9)

The excavations in 1973 concentrated on 4 areas; beneath the great pavement, in the west range of the inner courtyard, on a previoulsy undiscovered east range and an area to the west of the villa. Based on this evidence a hypothetical development sequence was advanced. In this the villa, at its founding in the late 1st or early 2nd Century, comprise the rooms that later formed the south eastern side of the courtyard. This nucleus was later extended on the north western side. This extension was then demolished in the 1st half of the 4th Century when 3 ranges were added to form the inner courtyard. The latest datable finds recovered were late 4th Century potsherds and a bronze buckle loop. [Excavation report]. (10)

Detailed description and illustration of the Great Pavement. (11)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" 1954
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 2
Source : Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society
Source details : (C Playne) Illust
Page(s) : 142-7
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 5, 1880-1
Source Number : 10
Source : Britannia : a journal of Romano-British and kindred studies
Source details : (G Clarke)
Page(s) : 196-228
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 13, 1982
Source Number : 11
Source : Roman mosaics in Britain : an introduction to their schemes and a catalogue of paintings
Source details :
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 1
Source Number : 12
Source : A gazetteer of Roman villas in Britain
Source details : GS 110
Page(s) : 78
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : no.1
Source Number : 3
Source : Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society
Source details : (St Clair Baddeley) Illust
Page(s) : 75-96
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 48, 1926
Source Number : 4
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Bristol Arch Research Gp Field Guide No 2 1968 19-20 (Hebditch & Grinsell)
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 4a
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Ro Antiquities at Woodchester 1797 (S Lysons) Illust
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 5
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Arch Handbook Glos 1883 68-9 (G B Witts)
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 6
Source : Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society
Source details : (H E O'Neil)
Page(s) : 174
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 74, 1955
Source Number : 7
Source : Bristol and Avon Archaeological Research Group bulletin
Source details : (L F J Walrond)
Page(s) : 86
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 3 Pt4
Source Number : 8
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 NVQ 31-OCT-71
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 9
Source : Glevensis : Gloucestershire and District Archaeological Research Group review
Source details : (Giles Clarke)
Page(s) : 6, 16-18
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 7, 1974

Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Roman
Display Date :
Monument End Date : 399
Monument Start Date : 67
Monument Type : Villa, Mosaic
Evidence : Sub Surface Deposit, Find

Components and Objects:
Period : Roman
Component Monument Type : Villa, Mosaic
Object Type : VESSEL
Object Material : Pottery

Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Gloucestershire)
External Cross Reference Number : 300
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : GC 107
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SO 80 SW 10
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Related Activities :
Associated Activities : WOODCHESTER ROMAN VILLA
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1712-01-01
End Date : 1722-12-31
Associated Activities : WOODCHESTER ROMAN VILLA
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1793-01-01
End Date : 1793-12-31
Associated Activities : WOODCHESTER ROMAN VILLA
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1880-01-01
End Date : 1880-12-31
Associated Activities : FIELD OBSERVATION ON SO 80 SW 10
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1971-10-31
End Date : 1971-10-31
Associated Activities : WOODCHESTER ROMAN VILLA
Activity type : GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1972-01-01
End Date : 1972-12-31
Associated Activities : WOODCHESTER ROMAN VILLA
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1973-01-01
End Date : 1973-12-31
Associated Activities : WOODCHESTER ROMAN VILLA
Activity type : GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1973-01-01
End Date : 1973-12-31
Associated Activities : WOODCHESTER
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1979-01-01
End Date : 1979-12-31
Associated Activities : LAND AT THE OLD PRIORY
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 2010-01-01
End Date : 2010-12-31