Roman villa at Belmont, Exhall

Description of this historic site

The remains of a Roman occupation site were found during archaeological work. Ditches and walls were discovered along with painted wall plaster and a hypocaust. The site was located 100m north of the church at Exhall.

Notes about this historic site

1 Archaeological observation at this location (WA 8327) revealed evidence for Roman occupation, in the form of walls and a ditch. These appeared to respect the alignment of the cropmark enclosure to the south (WA 6961), rather than the Medieval street frontage. However, they may represent more than one phase of activity, with a Roman stone building possibly post-dating the enclosure of an earlier farmstead.
2 Further observation identified the Romano-British building on this site as a substantial country house or villa. The wall foundations revealed in the extension trenches appear to belong to a building range running south-west to north-east, at least 11m long and at least 5m wide, and containing at least two rooms. The diagonal channel across the northeastern room seems to belong to a channelled hypocaust, suggesting that the room had underfloor heating and the quantities of painted plaster from the demolition layers (over 200 fragments) indicate that it had elaborately decorated plastered walls. The demolition layers also produced roof tile and a fragment of window glass which also indicate that this was a high status building, probably the main dwelling house of the villa. The walls identified in 1998 were on broadly similar alignments but will probably belong to other buildings in the villa complex. The pottery assemblage which dated broadly to the second half of the 2nd century AD to the 4th century AD was predominately utilitarian coarsewares. There was evidence for cooking, drinking and eating but no storage vessels were found.
Villas were more than just country houses, they were also centres of agriculture and rural industry. In one complex they would have a house and often a bath house for the landowner and his family, as well as accommodation for overseers, labourers and slaves, and barns, storehouses, and industrial buildings. The villa house revealed at Exhall is likely to be extensive, with possibly more than one range, and the surrounding area is likely to contain remains of the associated buildings for agriculture, storage or industry.

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