(6 miles N.E. of Cirencester)
Roman finds from points imprecisely located in the
area of the village include late Roman coins, bronze
dividers, a plumb-bob (said to have been found at
Manor Farm) and, allegedly, a stone bas-relief of
Aesculapius. Tesserae have been reported in the gardens
of Church Row Cottages, about 50 yds. S.E. of the
church. (fn. 1) From the crest of a hill N.W. of the village
come an inscribed potsherd, a 4th-century coin and
samian and mortaria sherds. (fn. 2) An extension of the
'White Way' probably ran N.E. across the area now
occupied by the airfield and Chedworth Woods
(SP 0413), but no trace of it has been found.
Several Roman sites occur in the vicinity of the villa
(1), some of them in adjacent parishes. About ½ mile
N., at two points 300 yds. apart in Withington
(SP 05321432, 05021429), pottery has been found by Mr.
A. N. Irvine. Romano-British potsherds and an iron
gouge, probably Roman, were noted during excavation on and near a round barrow ¾ mile S.W. of the
villa, at SP 04081285. (fn. 3) A terraced track in Streetfold
(Yanworth (2)) aligns on the villa, and another track
extends in its general direction S.W. from the settlement at Yanworth (1).
A description (fn. 4) of eight alleged Roman 'cisterns' is
likely to have been inspired by details of 'The Capitol'
(1) Roman Villa (SP 053135), Chedworth Woods, was
discovered by chance in 1864. It stands, 100 ft. below
the level where Fuller's Earth overlies Inferior Oolite,
at a point where three gullies join to form the head of
a single valley which falls gently E. towards the R. Coln,
250 yds. distant. Soon after discovery the extensive
remains were exposed by James Farrer; later they were
partly built up and roofed over by Farrer's nephew,
Lord Eldon. Much patched, they are now in the care of
the National Trust. Plan, p. 26.
Certain features shown on the plan are no longer
visible on the ground. Some rebuilt walls differ slightly
in position or structure from the original elements, and
ground-levels, notably in the courtyard, are in places
very different from those of Roman times. The 'fulling
establishment' which once was thought to occupy the
W. of the N. range is now interpreted as a muchaltered bath house.
The N. and W. ranges of the villa stand on artificial
terraces partly recessed into the hillside; the S. wing is
set lower, near the valley floor. The complete form of
the S. wing remains uncertain, as does the E. limit of
the N. range, in an area of slumping. Debris and
indications of further structures have been noted in pits
dug for electricity poles at points up to 255 ft. E. of
room 1a in the S. wing. There has been confirmation
that much debris occurs around the villa, and dark
earth, coins and pottery have been found on rough
terraces above the steep artificial scarps which rise from
the central part of the W. range and from the N. range.
In the latter area copious finds and an alleged 'chamber'
were noted in 1864, before there could be any possibility of confusion with excavators' spoil heaps. Occupational debris lies against the walls of the S. wing.
Small excavations carried out in recent years by Sir
Ian Richmond and others have shown development
from the early 2nd century to the late 4th century,
with evidence of fire in early and late phases. Richmond's
excavations in 1958–65 (upon which much of our information as to sequence and function depends) consisted of sections or selective clearance in the following
areas: the corridor between rooms 1 and 2; in and near
rooms 1b, 3, 6, 7, 8 and 12; the nymphaeum (17); rooms
19, 21, 21a, 22, 24, 25, and 25a; the corridor S.W. of
room 30 and S. of room 32; E. of room 33, and the
terrace N. of room 30.
Monuments in Chedworth and Yanworth.
The early structures, three separate blocks, formed
three sides of a rectangle open on the E. The W. end of
the S. block, a timber-framed gable, suffered from fire
before reconstruction and enlargement, as did much of
the W. range. The S. wall of room 3 is built up from
footings that are slightly offset. These could be part of
an early precinct wall, otherwise traceable to an angle
about 45 ft. W. of room 5a and thence in fragmentary
exposures N. to a possible N.W. angle under the
nymphaeum; its upper courses, when formerly exposed,
partly revetting the W. scarp, were seen to be of
herring-bone construction. The early details of the W.
range are largely obscured by later development; an
entrance 4½ ft. wide occurred in the W. wall of the
narrow compartment N. of room 7. The N. range was
largely taken up by a bath suite of normal Roman type.
The lower portions of two lathe-turned columns
(Plate 26) remain in situ on a wall beside the N. range
(20). The main water supply to the villa was from a
spring, S, at the N.W. corner of the site; it was channelled into a cistern just outside the suggested N.W.
angle of the precinct wall. A roughly circular sinking
6 ft. across, possibly the site of a well, occurs at H, some
30 yds. E. of room 12.
Chedworth. (1) Roman Villa. Chedworth Woods.
Subsequently the villa was enlarged and the earlier
buildings were integrated into a single complex.
Corridors, interrupted on the E. side by a gateway,
defined the inner courtyard and linked the N. and S.
ranges. Room 7 was enlarged and the doorway on the
W. was blocked. The bath suite in the W. wing (rooms
8–14) was established. The damp-heat baths in the N.
wing (rooms 19–24) were converted by stages to a dryheat establishment of sauna type (Plate 25). Lead pipes
connect the immersion baths (23). An entrance 7½ ft.
wide into room 21 from the S., and another 4¼ ft. wide
in the W. side of the western bath of 23 were blocked.
A floor built over the stoke-hole S. of room 24 sealed
a fill containing Oxfordshire red colour-coated ware,
conventionally datable after 270. A porticoed nymphaeum (17) was constructed, having at its centre an
octagonal cistern holding 1,100 gallons into which the
main water supply was funnelled; from it the water
was allegedly distributed through a stone-lined junction box. The W. wall of the nymphaeum crosses the
original cistern and the south stylobate overlies the N.
wall of the precinct, possibly at its former N.W. corner.
A column 5½ ft. high, now loose in the bath suite near
room 23, probably comes from the nymphaeum portico.
The nymphaeum was associated with Christianity when
chi-rho inscriptions were carved on at least three of
the trapezoidal stones edging the cistern. These stones,
recognisable by their shape, were removed late in the
Roman period and one was built into the footings of
steps to room 10.
The wall which extends W. from the S.W. corner of
the nymphaeum is probably an addition, designed to
overlap rather than to join the surviving part of the
presumed precinct wall on the W., thus providing a
In its final form the villa covered at least 2 acres, but
the E. limits have not as yet been determined. It was
arranged in tiers, with steps joining the different levels
and leading to rooms with floors raised above ground-level hypocausts. The corridor beside the final E. extension of the N. range represents the widening of an
earlier version; at the E. end it is built above earlier
Roman levels. The later masonry incorporates much
reused stone; a baluster hypocaust pillar, for instance,
is built into an apse of room 22. Drains led from the
baths into the courtyard areas; one served the latrine (4);
another is still visible N. of room 32. There were two
dining rooms (5 and 32) and two kitchens (3 and 30) as
well as bath suites in both W. and N. ranges. The piers
of the channelled hypocaust in room 33 are about a foot
higher than those surviving in room 32, suggesting the
possibility that it was a dais at the E. end of dining room
32, rather than separate. The S. wing, as so far explored,
had no heated living rooms or mosaic pavements. The
latrine 4, S. of this wing, was finally altered for some
different use. Outside it, in the angle with room 1b, an
infant burial was found in a Blue Lias slab cist, inserted
in rubbish spanning the 2nd to 4th centuries (dated by
excavation in 1954).
Fire in the last Roman phase is indicated by the discovery of 67 lb. of melted lead in a room of the N.
range. The villa has suffered from extensive stone robbing, and much stone, including calcined fragments of
sculpture, has been found in and around a lime-kiln on
the terrace 20 yds. N. of the N. range.
Tessellated floors of 4th-century date exist or existed
in at least fifteen rooms and over most of the W. and N.
corridors (Plates 2–7). All the mosaics except those of
rooms 5 and 10, which are recognisably of the Corinian
school of mosaicists (Plates 2–5), have geometric
patterns. Two mosaics in the W. range were superseded: a pavement was crossed by the N. wall of room
6, and a pavement in room 14 (Plate 6) had a floor of
Lias flags built over it. The 'hall' (25a) is said to have
had tesserae over its entire length, some 56 ft. Repairs
which resulted in changes of detail are seen in rooms
5 and 10. Patches of ancient burning in these rooms
include one on the tessellated threshold of room 10,
unlikely to be the result of scorching from a brazier.
Tesserae vary in size from about ¼ in. in fine detail to
1½ in. for borders. Colours derive from the materials used:
red from tile or Old Red Sandstone; blue from Lias;
white and brown from limestones. Pennant flags, concrete
and opus signinum were used for floors in all phases.
Heating was by means of hypocausts with pillars of
tile (rooms 5, 11 and 12), of stone (rooms 24, 26 and the
S. part of room 32), or channelled (rooms 6, 10, 24a,
the N. of 25, and parts of rooms 32 and 33). The stone
pillars, 108 originally in room 26, are of limestone, up
to 2½ ft. high, square in section and expanded, balusterlike, at top and bottom to squares of 7 in. to 10 in.
(Plate 25). Rearrangement involved the blocking or
filling-in of hypocausts in rooms 6, 8, 21, 22, S.E. of 24
and 26. Fragments of stone pillars are built into the piers
of the channelled system in the N. of room 32 and whole
pillars into the S. apse of room 22.
Architectural details (Plate 26) and small finds contribute to the picture of a rich villa, with some poor
objects possibly from the final phase. Painted plaster was
extensively used inside, and there was also some marble
facing; externally there was cement rendering. Room
21 had a quoin of tiles. The apses of room 22 were
jacketed with flue tiles. Hollow baked clay voussoirs
were noted from the roof of compartment 12. Other
roofing materials include tegulae, hexagonal stone-slates
and lead. Two stone bases with the surviving feet of
two small figures probably once stood in a recess in the
W. wall of room 5b. Fragments of fretted limestone
balustrade embodying an 'S' motif probably derive
from a corridor or a veranda. Other architectural stonework includes numerous column fragments, part of a
cornice, and ridging stones. Huge iron beams weighing
256, 356 and 484 lbs., found in the corner of room 19,
had probably been used to support a massive hot-water
tank of copper or lead.
Inscribed stones include the three mentioned above,
with chi-rho monograms, and one with ruled lines, all
removed from the nymphaeum, and a building stone
which had PRASINA carved on it.
Four altars were found. One, barbarously carved, is
dedicated to Mars Lenus. One with a crude pilaster-like
body and with scribed or drilled detail probably represents a Celtic god. The third, uninscribed, was found
buried in the nymphaeum. The fourth, very crude and with
saltires on the sides, was found just outside the S. wing.
The abundant finds include 360 coins, mostly from
positions in or near room 2, suggesting that it was a
steward's office. At least one-third of the coins belong
to the period 364–78 and only 2 per cent. date from
before 240; the three latest recognisable are of Gratian
(issue of 378–83). Pottery includes samian ware of the
early 2nd century (some with potters' stamps), an
amphora with potter's stamp, a Rhenish beaker, large
quantities of Oxfordshire late colour-coated and some
painted ware, New Forest beakers, Nene Valley and a
little Severn Valley ware and black-burnished ware of
the 2nd to 4th century. A silver spoon inscribed CENSORINE GAUDEAS, now lost, was found in 'rubbish' on the
W. of the W. range. Bronze finds include spoons, rings,
a stylus, two prick-spurs of rivet type and the cast
finger of a large effigy. Other metal finds include a
pewter jug, iron saws, chisels, knives, shears, spadeirons, alleged hunting arrows, a pair of small shackles,
horseshoes, hinges and locks. Glass was found from
windows, bottles and bowls. Stone finds include a
quern-stone 2½ ft. in diameter from room 30, a rectangular basin from room 4, and moulded and carved
table-tops. There was a moulded disc of Kimmeridge
shale, and bone pins, needles and handles. Other bones
included two pieces of a human skull, and bones of pigs
and sheep. There were antlers of red deer and oyster
A late Roman zoomorphic buckle (Hawkes and
Dunning type IIA) was found roughly 25 yds. E.N.E. of
the museum, in the outer court of the villa. The museum
contains at least two finds of uncertain origin. St. Clair
Baddeley suggests that a unique brooch with seven
human heads embossed on a bronze disc could have
come from a quarry (perhaps that adjacent to the temple
(4)) in the neighbourhood. A small limestone Christian
cross is unprovenanced. Most surviving finds are in the
museum, but some architectural fragments are dispersed
in the rooms of the villa.
JBAA, XXIV (1868), 129–35; XXV (1869), 215–25; XXVI
(1870), 251–2. PSAS, VI (1868), 278–83. Arch, LIX (1905),
210–14 (fulling theory). TBGAS, 76 (1957), 160–4 (room 4
and adjacent); 78 (1959), 5–23 (reinterpretation of laconicum),
and 162–5 (coins); 86 (1967), 102–6 (mosaic). Ant J, XXXIX
(1959), 66 (spurs). Med. Archaeol., V (1961), 51, No. 5 (buckle).
Arch J, XLIV (1887), 322–36; CXXII (1965), 203. Toynbee
(1964), passim. RIB, Nos. 126–8. Rivet (ed.), The Roman Villa
in Britain (1969), passim. Britannia, II (1971), 200–2 (iron beams).
G. E. Fox collection in Soc. Ants., London, Box I, sheets
8–17; Box III, sheets 25, 29–31. Site drawings and notes by
Sir Ian Richmond in Ashmolean Museum. Information and
personal observations from Mr. A. N. Irvine (warden) and
Mr. R. Goodburn.
(2) Roman Building (SP 05121358) in Chedworth
Woods, 170 yds. N.W. of (1), is probably the structure
called 'The Capitol' by its 19th-century discoverers;
it was destroyed in the construction of a railway. The
building stood precisely at the head of the narrow gully
taking 'Dark Lane' N.W. from (1). Several small
rooms are said to have been partly cleared, and in 1869
H. M. Scarth refers to the building as a 'circular temple'.
The area immediately W. of the railway is flat enough
for buildings, but it shows no sign of disturbance.
Finds include coins, hexagonal tiles, fragments of
pillars, part of a shell-headed niche, and glass tesserae.
The stone relief of a 'hunter god' with hare, dog and
stag, sometimes ascribed to (4), might have come from
this site. Surviving finds are in the museum at (1).
PSAS, VI (1868), 283. JBAA, XXV (1869), 222. Arch J,
XLIV (1887), 323. Toynbee (1964), 179.
(3) Roman Building (SP 05571346), about 230 yds. E.
of (1), is now a low knoll, perhaps partly artificial; cf.
Duntisbourne Rouse (4), (a). The knoll extends 50 ft.
N. from the road and has a nearly level top, about 40 ft.
wide. Building debris can be seen on it when it is under
(4) Roman Temple (SP 06111329) in Chedworth Woods,
½ mile E. of (1), is now a massive but much disturbed
artificial platform some 35 yds. from, and 50 ft. above,
the flood-plain of the R. Coin. Excavations in 1864–5
and in 1930 show that the platform is a relic of a stone
temple (Lewis's Romano-Celtic type IA) about 50 ft.
square, with a colonnaded portico and cella set on a
podium of very large hewn limestone blocks. The downhill scarp of the platform is 12 ft. high and a scarp rises
uphill from it to a height of about 8 ft. The orientation
of the platform is roughly 10°. In 1931 it was suggested
that there might be an extension or annex at the N.W.
angle of the platform.
A round-bottomed stone-lined hole, 7 ft. across and
5 ft. deep, midway along the ambulatory on the E. side,
contained bones of red deer. Other finds in the platform
area included the drums of stone columns 1½ ft. in
diameter, and a fragment of a capital; also pieces of
moulded stone architrave, sandstone hexagonal slates,
tiles, opus signinum and concrete. Similar debris just
outside the platform included 'hypocaust tiles', stone
troughs and blocks of tufa. Much stone debris is said to
have been taken for the repair of buildings in the area.
Undated fragments of human skull were found in the
ambulatory. Coins ranged from the mid 2nd to the 4th
century. Two slabs roughly scribed with armed figures
are said to have come from the site. The relief of a
'hunter god' with animals (see (2)) is sometimes
ascribed to this site. Surviving small finds are in the
museum at (1).
PSAS, VI (1868), 262. JRS, XIV (1924), 231. TBGAS, LII
(1931), 255–64. Lewis (1966), passim.
(5) Romano-British Settlement (SP 06121307) in
Chedworth Woods, 250 yds. S. of (4), was noted by
James Farrer in 1865. The site is a natural shelf on a
steep hillside at the junction of Inferior Oolite and
Fuller's Earth. Traces of walls occur at the head of a
rise in the shelf (about 06101307). Black earth and
Romano-British potsherds have been found in an area
extending about 100 yds. E.
PSAS, VI (1868), 283. Information from Mr. A. N. Irvine.
(6) Roman Villa (SP 07011175) at Listercombe, discovered by chance c. 1760, stood almost on the valley
bottom, near the junction of Inferior Oolite and Fuller's
Earth, on ground sloping gently to an adjacent stream.
Other remains occur a little uphill to the W., below the
steep (perhaps scarped) valley-side. The site has been
explored several times without publication of results.
A mosaic pavement is said to have been seen in 1892
during the rebuilding of a field wall immediately W.
of the remains shown on the plan (information from
Mr. J. Scotford). In 1930 Mr. C. E. Key uncovered a
hypocaust (at least 10 ft. by 5 ft., internally) with tile
pilae on Oolite bases; traces of walls, possible floors and
a paved 'corridor' lay to S.E. Wall footings 4½ ft.
wide extended S.W. for at least 90 ft. from the side of
the hypocaust. Fifty yards to the W., the corner of
another Roman room was discovered in an area where
earthen platforms survive.
Building material included tegulae, Cotswold stone
roofing tiles, box-tiles and painted wall-plaster. Former
reports note a bath or cistern, tiles stamped Arveri from
a hypocaust, and tesserae. It is likely, though not certain,
that a hypocaust uncovered before 1865, and perhaps
again by St. Clair Baddeley in 1926, was the same as
that dug out by Mr. Key. Finds, in Cheltenham Museum,
include six coins (untraced) one of them allegedly
'Constantinian'; also pottery including Oxfordshire
colour-coated ware, a 4th-century mortarium and
calcite-gritted wares, iron strapping and nails, a stone
cosmetic palette, and bones and oyster shells.
Rudder (1779), 334. Bigland (1791), I, 305. JBAA, XXV
(1889), 222–3. Chedworth Villa Guide (1926). JRS, XXI (1931),
239. Cheltenham Echo, 11 Apr., and Cheltenham Chronicle and
Gloucestershire Graphic, 23 Aug. 1930. Information provided
by Mr. C. E. Key, whose plan is in Cheltenham Museum.
Plan by St. Clair Baddeley in Gloucester City Library.
R.A.F., VAP CPE/UK 1913: 4094–6.