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HER Number: 1314
Record Type: Monument
Name: North Leigh Roman Villa

Designations

  • Scheduled Monument () 1009419: North Leigh Roman villa 300m NNE of Upper Riding Farm
Grid Reference: SP 396 153
Parish:NORTH LEIGH, WEST OXFORDSHIRE, OXFORDSHIRE

Monument Type(s):

  • (Undated)
  • BATH HOUSE (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • MOSAIC (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • VILLA (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)

Summary

Includes the remains of a Roman villa and its associated buildings and trackway situated 300m NNE of Upper Riding Farm. Excavations show that site first occupied in Late Iron Age. Villa type originally winged-corridor but converted to courtyard.

Associated Monuments

  • None
  • Associated Finds:

  • FOX12068 - HOARD (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • Description

    1) Part of the monument is currently held in the Guardianship of the Secretary of State. The principal villa building complex itself has three ranges of more than 60 rooms built on three sides of the courtyard, the fourth side being formed by a corridor in which the gateway was set. Further ranges of buildings lie to the SW of the main complex, either side of a metalled driveway which led away from the gateway on the SE side of the courtyard. The courtyard itself measures c.65m from SE to NW by 50m from SW to NE.
    The villa is of luxurious construction, including four bath suites, situated close to the corners of the complex, 16 rooms containing mosaic pavements, some of which remain visible above ground, 11 rooms with plain tessellated floors and under-floor hypocaust heating in 11 rooms.
    The main complex has been partially excavated and some of these areas are now visible above ground, both in the open air and covered. The excavations have shown that the site was first occupied during the Late Iron Age: a number of pits and pottery fragments were found under the floors of the later villa complex. The villa appears to have been constructed in three main phases, the first phase being underway in the late C2 AD. The villa began as a winged-corridor building but was rapidly extended to form a courtyard villa. During the early C3 AD a number of rooms were divided and soon afterwards rebuilding and extension of some of the buildings on the NW and SW ranges was undertaken.
    Further evidence of workshop units and other buildings to the SE have been identified from aerial photographs which show that the site extended over a large area on the W bank of the River Evenlode. Excluded from the scheduling is the modern building housing the mosaics, the custodian's building, all boundary walls and fences and services and their trenches on the site, although the ground and fabric beneath all of these features is included.
    2) Large villa excavated 1813/1816. Mosaic pavement, bath, etc. West and North wings re-excavated by Prof Haverfield and others, 1910/1911.
    3) Villa probably one storey, partly timber. 1st phase C2nd, and occupied until start of C5th. Most prosperous in first half of C4th.
    4) Large block to SW seen from air by D N Riley.
    5) North wing excavated by Miss H O'Neill from Ministry of Works. Earliest occupation represented by post holes associated with Early Iron Age sherds of Belgic ware.
    8) 1980 and 1988 versions of the DoE Guidebook, as well as 1923 The Roman Villa at North Leigh by M V Taylor, all transferred to Oxon History Centre in 2015.
    11) Riley photographed a SW extension to the villa. Plan made for JRS.
    12) Extensive bibliography provided by EH staff and put into Detailed Record File.
    13) Area 9m x 7m examined in bath suite; mosaic in 24b had been destroyed, but hypocaust in poor condition. Sequence of structures was: early bathhouse, superseded by unheated living rooms, to which the bath suite was added mid C4th.
    14) Excavation of bath suite in north corner of villa continued, with rooms 24, 25 and 26a examined (DoE excavation supervised by Mr J J West).
    15) Excavation in north corner continued Rooms 22, 23 and 24 examined.
    16) Most published plans are wrongly oriented, and should be rotated anti-clockwise through 90 degrees so that the main entrance faces approx. NE. Drainage ditch NE of villa exposed at least 3 stone buildings or boundary walls.
    19)Clippings removed to be archived at Oxfordshire history Centre. D Pinches 21/01/13.
    21) See for illustration; mosaic found in great tripartite vaulted triclinium (dining room, room 1) of courtyard villa; viewed from NE. Excavated in 1816; re-laid insitu over hypocaust tiles in 1929. Geometric design of four colours is composed of saltires, the centres containing knots and flowers in roundels, the arms containing peltae. Mosaic laid by mosaicists based in Cirencester (Corinium). Length: 8.4m Date: early C4
    22) Report is focused on excavations in a suite of 4 rooms in the villa dating to the late C3 or early C4, associated with a plunge pool excavated in the C19; the excavations were undertaken in advance of consolidation work. The rooms overlay a C2 bath house also known from earlier work. The most important find was a hoard of counterfeit coins which had been deposited in one of the rooms after it had gone out of use. Work occurred in NW corner of villa, and was done in 4 campaigns between 1975-1977. See for objects found.
    23) Thorough review of plan of villa, including all buildings with any dating evidence. Article also includes notes on AP work and all sources on plans. [Report in West Oxon excerpts: CAS West 19].
    24) General note about possible landscaping in courtyard; no traces of gardens survive.
    25) 28 tesserae from villa collected in 1815 and 1967.
    27) Letters from watching brief done while restoration work was occurring, and comments from J Steane regarding condition..


    <1> English Heritage, Scheduled Ancient Monuments Record, SM 21 (Scheduling record). SOX283.


    <2> General reference, Antiquities of Oxfordshire (1823) reprinted as pamphlet 1836, by H H Hakewell (Bibliographic reference). SOX373.


    <3> Victoria County History of Oxford, Vol I, pp.316-8 (Serial). SOX252.


    <4> Journal of Roman Studies, p.34, fig 8 (Bibliographic reference). SOX378.


    <5> Oxford Architectural & Historical Society, Oxoniensia, Vol VIII/IX (1943) pp.197-8 (Serial). SOX284.


    <6> Oxford Architectural & Historical Society, Oxoniensia, Vol XXIII (1958) pp.133-4 (Serial). SOX284.


    <7> Oxford Architectural & Historical Society, Oxoniensia, Vol XXIV (1959) pp.13-21 (Serial). SOX284.


    <8> General reference, DoE Guide Book: North Leigh Roman Villa, by D R Wilson & D Sherlock (1988). (Bibliographic reference). SOX373.


    <9> General reference, The Roman Villa in Britain, edited by Alf Rivet (19??). (Bibliographic reference). SOX373.


    <10> CBA South Midlands Group, South Midlands Archaeology, Vol 21 (1991) p.82 (Serial). SOX5.


    <11> Oxford Architectural & Historical Society, Oxoniensia, Vol VIII-IX (1943-4) p.197 (Serial). SOX284.


    <13> Britannia, Vol VII (1976) p.337 (Serial). SOX282.


    <14> Britannia, Vol VIII (1977) p.400 (Serial). SOX282.


    <15> Britannia, Vol IX (1978) p.444 (Serial). SOX282.


    <16> Britannia, Vol XI (1980) p.372 (Serial). SOX282.


    <17> Slide Cabinet, 6 views from ground, 2 internal views, and 2 aerial ones (Photograph). SOX303.


    <18> Oxfordshire County Council, 1961, Fairey Aerial Surveys, 6125, 6101, 8078 (Photograph). SOX264.


    <19> Additional Information in Detailed Record File, Guide books, plans, articles, and extensive notes (Index). SOX258.


    <20> Black and White print photographs, 1 aerial view taken 1972/3 by Helicopter Training School, Nethravon (Photograph). SOX315.


    <21> FAMOS, 2004, Treasures of Oxfordshire, item 13/A, p 13 (Unpublished document). SOX1645.


    <22> Britannia, Report on Excavation and Recording in the 1970s by P Ellis; copy in DRF (Serial). SOX282.


    <23> Britannia, North Leigh Roman Villa: its Plan Reviewed by D Wilson, vol 35 (2004); copy in DRF (Serial). SOX282.


    <24> Additional Information in Detailed Record File, Lost Gardens of Roman Oxfordshire (Index). SOX258.


    <25> Oxford Architectural & Historical Society, Oxoniensia, Vol LXII (1997) p.312 (Serial). SOX284.


    <26> OAU Newsletter, No 8 August 1979 pp.2-3 (Article in serial). SOX270.


    <27> Archaeological Field Work, 1977 and 1979 (Unpublished document). SOX1047.

    Sources

    <1>English Heritage. Scheduled Ancient Monuments Record. SM 21. [Scheduling record / SOX283]
    <2>General reference. Antiquities of Oxfordshire (1823) reprinted as pamphlet 1836, by H H Hakewell. [Bibliographic reference / SOX373]
    <3>Victoria County History of Oxford. Vol I, pp.316-8. [Serial / SOX252]
    <4>Journal of Roman Studies. p.34, fig 8. [Bibliographic reference / SOX378]
    <5>Oxford Architectural & Historical Society. Oxoniensia. Vol VIII/IX (1943) pp.197-8. [Serial / SOX284]
    <6>Oxford Architectural & Historical Society. Oxoniensia. Vol XXIII (1958) pp.133-4. [Serial / SOX284]
    <7>Oxford Architectural & Historical Society. Oxoniensia. Vol XXIV (1959) pp.13-21. [Serial / SOX284]
    <8>General reference. DoE Guide Book: North Leigh Roman Villa, by D R Wilson & D Sherlock (1988).. [Bibliographic reference / SOX373]
    <9>General reference. The Roman Villa in Britain, edited by Alf Rivet (19??).. [Bibliographic reference / SOX373]
    <10>CBA South Midlands Group. South Midlands Archaeology. Vol 21 (1991) p.82. [Serial / SOX5]
    <11>Oxford Architectural & Historical Society. Oxoniensia. Vol VIII-IX (1943-4) p.197. [Serial / SOX284]
    <13>Britannia. Vol VII (1976) p.337. [Serial / SOX282]
    <14>Britannia. Vol VIII (1977) p.400. [Serial / SOX282]
    <15>Britannia. Vol IX (1978) p.444. [Serial / SOX282]
    <16>Britannia. Vol XI (1980) p.372. [Serial / SOX282]
    <17>Slide Cabinet. 6 views from ground, 2 internal views, and 2 aerial ones. [Photograph / SOX303]
    <18>Oxfordshire County Council. 1961. Fairey Aerial Surveys. print. 6125, 6101, 8078. [Photograph / SOX264]
    <19>Additional Information in Detailed Record File. Guide books, plans, articles, and extensive notes. [Index / SOX258]
    <20>Black and White print photographs. 1 aerial view taken 1972/3 by Helicopter Training School, Nethravon. [Photograph / SOX315]
    <21>FAMOS. 2004. Treasures of Oxfordshire. item 13/A, p 13. [Unpublished document / SOX1645]
    <22>Britannia. Report on Excavation and Recording in the 1970s by P Ellis; copy in DRF. [Serial / SOX282]
    <23>Britannia. North Leigh Roman Villa: its Plan Reviewed by D Wilson, vol 35 (2004); copy in DRF. [Serial / SOX282]
    <24>Additional Information in Detailed Record File. Lost Gardens of Roman Oxfordshire. [Index / SOX258]
    <25>Oxford Architectural & Historical Society. Oxoniensia. Vol LXII (1997) p.312. [Serial / SOX284]
    <26>OAU Newsletter. No 8 August 1979 pp.2-3. [Article in serial / SOX270]
    <27>Archaeological Field Work. 1977 and 1979. [Unpublished document / SOX1047]