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HER Number:MDV11585
Name:Iron Age-Roman Farmstead to the north of Membury Court


The site of a presumed Roman villa. Geophysical survey and targeted evaluation trenches identified enclosure ditches of Late Iron Age or Roman date and the foundation trenches of a Romanised masonry building. It is suggested that the masonry building is likely to have been an ancillary building with the main 'villa' building to the south. The site appears to be that of a rural farmstead which has progressively expanded to include a rectilinear enclosure system and has adopted the trappings of Roman Britain.


Grid Reference:ST 263 039
Map Sheet:ST20SE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishMembury
DistrictEast Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishMEMBURY

Protected Status

  • SHINE: Site of Iron Age and Roman enclosures, Roman villa, remains of a medieval chapel, a linhay part dating from the 14th/15th century, 18th century stables, 18th/19th century barn, pigsty and site of orchard of 19th century date or earlier at Membury Court

Other References/Statuses

  • National Record of the Historic Environment: 190189
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: ST20SE/24

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • ENCLOSURE (Early Iron Age to Roman - 700 BC to 409 AD (Between))
  • VILLA (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD (Between))

Full description

RIGOLD, Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV103518.

Farmer reports that the site, on top of a little hill, looking s, is covered with fragments of stone + tile, and the grass is visibly thin (rigold).

APH, Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV103521.

Nothing conclusive on 1947 ap's, which show land drains radiating across this field (aph).

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV103523.


Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV103524.

Wilkin, w. H. /tda/60(1928)169.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV103525.

Hoskins, w. G. /new survey of england, devon/(1954)37,537.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV103526.

Fox, a. /tda/81(1949)88.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV103528.


Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV103529.

Des=rigold, s. E. /(2/12/1957)/letter to lady fox in pf.

Untitled Source (Aerial Photograph). SDV103530.

Aph=raf/cpe/uk 1974/4315/(11/4/1947)/(dcc 31/46).

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV103531.

Des=keystone/membury court, devon. Medieval house and chapel/(1993)15/k431.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, Untitled Source (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV24.

Vis=27/11/1959 (os) enquiries made at membury court to which the site belongs. Roman villa believed to have existed but exact position uncertain. No indication on the ground in the supposed site but in the area are a number of vague shallow depressions which may be evidence of excavations (os).

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV335.

Roman tegulae and scored flue tiles found in brickfield in 1948 now in exeter museum (tda, 1949). Site of supposed roman villa excavated by local incumbent rev f. E. W. Langdon in 1914 but no report published.(hoskins).

Keystone Historic Buildings Consultants, Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV41615.

Locals remember being shown finds at school in early 20c (keystone).

Exeter Museums Archaeological Field Unit, 1992 - 1993, Blackdown Hills Survey Archive (Archive - Survey). SDV324187.

Vis=24/9/1992 (reed and stead) field under permanent pasture and never ploughed for reseeding. No earthworks visible or finds reported.

Griffith, F., 1999, Devon County Council Archaeology Service (Article in Serial). SDV360507.

A Romano-British hilltop enclosure at Membury.

Smart, C., 2010, Geophysical Survey at Membury Court, Membury, East Devon, 4, 10, 11-12 (Report - Geophysical Survey). SDV359981.

At least three rectilinear enclosures, a fourth sub-rectangular double-ditched enclosure and the possible foundation trenches of a rectangular building (G, H, I, J) were recorded as anomalies on a geophysical survey undertaken on land to the north of Membury Court.

Smart, C. + Smart, H., 2014, Archaeological Trench Evaluation at Membury Court, Membury (Report - Evaluation). SDV359982.

A 45 metre long trench was positioned to investigate a substantial rectilinear anomaly identified during the resistivity survey conducted in 2011. Excavation revealed a broad compacted deposit of clay and chert. This material was devoid of finds and appeared to represent a single episode of deposition. The material sealed a number of ditches which related to the enclosures identified by magnetic and resistivity survey, and previously evaluated in 2011. The scant pottery recovered from these ditches suggests that they were infilled during the Roman period. The purpose of the extensive deposit is unclear but, given its shape and extent, it is suggested that the hill slope was levelled for a building or yard. There is no evidence to refute the suggestion that it relates to occupation of the site during the Roman period. The site appears to be that of a rural farmstead which has progressively expanded to include a rectilinear enclosure system and has adopted the trappings of Roman Britain.
Finds included pottery broadly dated to the 3rd or 4th centuries, pieces of slate including part of a diamond-shaped roofing slate typical of Romano British roof furniture used during the 3rd and 4th centuries, ceramic tiles, a sherd of glass which may be a fragment of Roman window pane and chert or flint lithics indicative of earlier activity on the site. The earliest confirmed feature, which was sealed by Roman building debris, was a pit or ditch containing flint flakes of Neolithic or Bronze Age date.

Smart, C. + Pearce, P., April 2011, Archaeological Trench Evaluation and Resistivity Survey at Membury Court, Membury, East Devon (Report - Evaluation). SDV349846.

Three trenches were positioned to investigate archaeological features indicated by a previous geophysical survey. Trench 1 revealed a pair of robber trenches suggested by the survey. In addition four walls were identified, two of which formed a room with internal plaster rendering. It is suggested that this building is of a Romanised form, and the range of building materials employed and evidence for a heating system suggest that this is of considerable local status. It possibly represents the location of a villa or associated building. Trench 2 revealed the northern ditch of a substantial subrectangular enclosure, posited on morphological grounds to be of Late Iron Age or Early Roman date. Excavation offered little dateable material but yielded a small assemblage of metal-working debris and a piece of ?Roman roofing slate. Trench 3 revealed a pair of enclosure ditches already indicated by the geophysical survey. These were part of a rectilinear enclosure system. Pottery and building debris from these are consistent with a Roman date. Overall, the evaluation confirmed the presence of features identified by geophysical survey and in addition revealed a series of masonry walls indicative of a Romanised building.
Targeted resistivity survey placed the masonry building in a wider context and showed that it was likely to actually be an ancillary building, possibly a bath house, with the main 'villa' building to the
south. The site appears to be that of a rural farmstead which has progressively expanded to include a rectilinear enclosure system and has adopted the trappings of Roman Britain.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV103518Migrated Record: RIGOLD.
SDV103521Migrated Record: APH.
SDV103523Migrated Record:
SDV103524Migrated Record:
SDV103525Migrated Record:
SDV103526Migrated Record:
SDV103528Migrated Record:
SDV103529Migrated Record:
SDV103530Aerial Photograph:
SDV103531Migrated Record:
SDV24Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV324187Archive - Survey: Exeter Museums Archaeological Field Unit. 1992 - 1993. Blackdown Hills Survey Archive. Blackdown Hills Survey Archive. A4 Unbound.
SDV335Migrated Record:
SDV349846Report - Evaluation: Smart, C. + Pearce, P.. April 2011. Archaeological Trench Evaluation and Resistivity Survey at Membury Court, Membury, East Devon. A4 stapled + Digital.
SDV359981Report - Geophysical Survey: Smart, C.. 2010. Geophysical Survey at Membury Court, Membury, East Devon. University of Exeter Report. Digital. 4, 10, 11-12. [Mapped feature: #75195 ]
SDV359982Report - Evaluation: Smart, C. + Smart, H.. 2014. Archaeological Trench Evaluation at Membury Court, Membury. University of Exeter. SX-05990. Digital.
SDV360507Article in Serial: Griffith, F.. 1999. Devon County Council Archaeology Service. Council for British Archaeology South West Newsletter. No. 2 Winter/Spring 1999. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV41615Migrated Record: Keystone Historic Buildings Consultants.

Associated Monuments

MDV1928Related to: Farmhouse, Membury Court (Building)

Associated Finds

  • FDV6390 - POT (III to IV - 201 AD to 400 AD)
  • FDV6391 - ROOF SLATE (III to IV - 201 AD to 400 AD)

Associated Events

  • EDV5921 - Archaeological Trench Evaluation and Resistivity Survey at Membury Court
  • EDV7167 - Geophysical Survey at Membury Court
  • EDV7168 - Archaeological Trench Evaluation at Membury Court

Date Last Edited:Nov 10 2017 10:42AM