Phase 2 - to 2004

The excavation

We are currently in the second phase of the excavation, working on the western end of the villa. Attached to this end of the building is a group of rooms that may have been a small bath house. A stoke room, a hot room with a hypocaust, a second room that was partially heated and a room or corridor at the front of the building.

diagram of phase 2 trenches

Current trenches over western end of villa

trench 7 - tessellated pavement and hypocausts

Tessellated pavement and hypocausts

Parts of the main hypocaust are remarkably well preserved. Excavating the rubble fill we found large quantities of box flue tiles, floor tiles, lumps of tufa (light weight stone use for bath house ceilings) and large pieces of brightly coloured painted wall plaster. Underneath all this, many of the elements of the under floor heating system remain. Some box tiles are still in place against the wall, several pillae stacks that supported the floor can still be seen. Part of the arched opening of the furnace flue is still visible and the floor was covered in a thick layer of Roman soot.

trench 7 - furnace flue and hypocaust

The furnace flue and hypocaust

The second hypocaust went out of use and was covered with a reddish opus signinum (crushed tile and lime mortar) floor. It also has a small sunken tank-like feature, we do not know what this was used for and no similar examples have yet been found. In the corridor on the south side are two patches of tessellated pavement, made with large terracotta tesserae, an early example of re-cycling, these were made by cutting old roof tiles roughly into 3cm squares. In the rubble spread outside this part of the villa, more than 20 small mosaic tesserae were found, but we have found no trace of a mosaic floor.The skeleton of an infant was also found in this rubble layer.

tessellated pavement

The tessellated pavement

A second trench was positioned to confirm that the corridor continued along the south side of the building. We had hoped to find more tessellated areas, there were many loose tesserae but no laid pavement. Many lozenge-shaped shoe studs were found in the rubble on the chalk floor. There were several hearths immediately outside the building, with large quantities of pottery, mostly small jars including black burnished ware from Dorset and many fragments of a large Grog-tempered ware storage jar.

trench 8 - corridor on south side

Corridor on south side

Our most recent trench is positioned over the ditch that is part of the rectangular villa enclosure. Currently being excavated, It is about 1.5 metres deep with a v-shaped profile and is up to three metres wide.The fill is mainly soil and building rubble including tile, lumps of mortar and painted wall plaster. Part of a Samianware pot base with the maker's stamp was found in this trench. In the ditch 23 hobnails were found still in position in the shape of the sole of a shoe.

trench 9 - enclosure ditch

Enclosure ditch

The landscape survey

This part of the SOAG project is designed to build up a more complete picture of the villa and the farmstead that supported it. This is the magnetometer survey completed in 2004 by SOAG's Geoff Deakin. It shows a multi-period landscape, with part of a Bronze age barrow cemetery (1) and (3), overlaid by the ditches and tracks of the Roman farmstead (3,5 & 6). The double rectangle of the villa enclosure ditch can be seen clearly (4).We may be able to identify areas of earlier occupation, the villa we are currently excavating is 3rd-4th century, but we know the farmstead was set out as early as the 2nd century.

geophysics survey

Hazel Williams - Project Co-Director