The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Hinckley and Bosworth (District Authority)
- North Warwickshire (District Authority)
- National Grid Reference:
- SP 32633 96640
Reasons for Designation
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 widespread, with between 400 and 1000 examples recorded nationally. The majority of these are classified as `minor’ villas to distinguish them from `major’ villas. The latter were a very small group of extremely substantial and opulent villas built by the very wealthiest members of Romano-British society. Minor villas are found throughout lowland Britain and occasionally beyond. 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. As a very diverse and often long-lived type of monument, a significant proportion of the known population are identified as nationally important.
Manduessedum is particularly important because of the survival of a large number of Roman features within the landscape. These include a villa, a defended settlement, an industrial complex, a number of Roman roads, a port or ferry settlement, early field systems and human burials. It is unusual in that the majority of the settlement remains and landscape features have survived from the Roman period without suffering large scale disruption by later development. In addition archaeological fieldwork indicates that each of the settlement and industrial areas had a long period of development. As a result the Roman landscape at Mancetter will provide insights into some of the more scarce, and less well recognised, elements of the Roman occupation of Britain.
It will also afford a long term view of the processes of social and economic development throughout the whole of the Roman period. The settlement will preserve evidence of the daily lives of the craftsmen and townspeople, and of their relationships with those who occupied the villa and the fort.
The survival of the villa will afford an opportunity to examine the relationship between agricultural production, industry and the market functions of the town, and provide evidence about the lifestyles of people of a higher status.
The survival of many stamped pieces of pottery from the industrial complex has allowed the identification of individual potters, and has provided an insight into the activities of craftsmen, as well as the distribution mechanisms of the industry. The survival of the kilns, drying sheds, other timber structures and wells and water channels used in processing, as well as large quantities of pottery provide an important insight into a specialised regional industry organised on a large scale.
The monument therefore affords an opportunity to study both the relationships between settlement, agriculture, industry and communications, and the development of these relationships throughout the Roman and immediate post- Roman period. Of particular interest is the survival of a broad range of settlement types, which will provide information about social relationships between people of different status and occupation. In addition, part excavation has shown that both structural and organic deposits survive which will include contemporary information about the environment, and technological and economic development within the region.
The monument includes the buried and earthwork remains of a Roman villa, settlement and industrial complex at Manduessedum. The monument is located in the Anker Valley, between Mancetter and Witherley, and lies along the route of Watling Street. The monument is partly sited in the flood plain of the River Anker in an area of river alluviums and glaciated soil with underlying Keuper Marl.
Mancetter was an important location during the Roman period. A fort lies across the River Anker to the west, whilst the Roman road known as Watling Street traverses the modern village. Manduessedum was a small, partly defended, town lying along the route of Watling Street, and probably acted as a production and marketing focus for the region’s pottery industry, which is known to have had a major centre to the south east of the settlement. Road and river transport provided communication between the settlement, the industry and the fort, and much of Roman Britain. Products manufactured in the potteries reaches as far away as North Wales and the Antonine Wall.
The remains of the defended settlement known as the `Burgus’, consist of an embanked rectangular enclosure, and an associated ribbon development lying along both sides of Watling Street. The earthworks consist of two large ditches and a bank, measuring approximately 220m by 160m, aligned north west to south east along the route of Watling Street which passes through its centre, and are of the late third century. Limited excavation has suggested that the embankment was preceded by first century defences and has shown that occupation in the area ranged from the first to the fourth century. In the gardens of the modern houses on the north side of Watling Street, which are not included in the scheduling, excavation revealed additional structures believed to be part of the ribbon settlement including evidence of shops, houses, and a medical surgery.
To the north west of the `Burgus’ are the remains of a Roman villa, which occupy the northern portion of the field lying adjacent to Watling Street. The site was identified through geophysical survey and part excavation by the Atherstone Archaeological and Historical Society. This revealed a complex of rectangular buildings, including a room with an apsidal end, painted wall plaster in red, green and yellow, and a hypocaust heating system lying approximately 17m south of Watling Street. Pottery found during field walking and excavation suggest that the villa was occupied during the second and third centuries. Traces of features associated with pottery from the first century were also identified. Five human skeletons of Anglo-Saxon date were cut into the Roman villa.
In addition to the main villa complex, geophysical survey has revealed further buildings, most likely shops and dwellings facing onto Watling Street.
To the south of the `Burgus’ are the buried remains of a Roman industrial complex, which forms part of the Mancetter-Hartshill pottery industry. This field has been partly excavated and over 70 kilns, with associated structures and wells, and large amounts of pottery were revealed. The industry operated from the mid-second century, and from the mid-third century into the fourth century it primarily produced mortaria – heavy mixing bowls studded on the inner surface with grit used for grinding foodstuffs, whilst evidence of glass production has also been recorded.
To the south west of the `Burgus’ and the south east of the villa between Watling Street and the River Anker are further archaeological remains which are believed to be associated with the Roman occupation of the area. These consist of cropmarks identified by aerial photography, which include several linear features, thought to be enclosures, and the remains of a Roman or prehistoric field system.
A small three-sided enclosure which measures approximately 25m by 40m is sited within 5m of the River Anker. This feature, partly excavated by K Scott in 1994, revealed the remains of a settlement, including a timber lined well and other wooden structures, believed to be associated with a ferry crossing or port on the River Anker providing communication with the Roman fort at Mancetter which is located 100m to the west of the river. The Roman fort is the subject of a separate scheduling.
Aerial photography has demonstrated further cropmark evidence, to the east and west of the `Burgus’, including two Roman roads running south from Watling Street. Geophysical survey has confirmed the survival of the road to the west of the `Burgus’.
Archaeological excavations in 1928, adjacent to the embankment of the `Burgus’, found evidence of a large timber structure sited along the edge of Watling Street which appears to pre date the embankment of the settlement. Further excavations in this field also discovered two Roman cremation burials. These cremations may well be part of a cemetery marking the eastern extent of the settlement.
The Bull Inn public house, all houses, modern fences, signs, and the surfaces of car parking, roads and tracks are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included. The house, gardens and access road of Mancetter House, located close to the south west angle of the `Burgus’, and the electricity sub station and gas pipe main immediately south of Watling Street are not included in the scheduling.
MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
- Legacy System number:
- Legacy System:
Books and journals
Burnham, B, Wacher, J, The ‘Small Towns’ of Roman Britain, (1990)
Hartley, K R, ‘WMANS’ in WMANS, , Vol. 19, (1976), 49
Hartley, K R, ‘Britannia’ in , , Vol. Vols 1 3, (1972), 319
O’Neil, B H S, ‘TBAS’ in Excavation Report, , Vol. 53, (1928), 173-195
Scott, K, ‘TBAS’ in , , Vol. 91, (1981), 7 to 23
Johnson, A.E., Land at Mancetter, Warwickshire., 1996, unpublished geophysical survey report
Roman Kiln, Hartley, K R, 7, (1964)
Roman Kiln, Hartley, K R, 7, (1965)
Roman Kiln, Hemsley, R, 77, (1959)
Wilson, M., Geophysical Survey illustrations, 1997, survey results, unpub.
Wilson, M., Request For Scheduling, 1997, site notes and survey results, unpub.
This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.