History and Exploration of Villas Villa is the Latin word for farm, and can also mean 'a large country
or suburban house'. They ranged from luxurious mansions to small
working farms. Some villas, like Woodchester Roman Villa in
Gloucestershire compare with eighteenth-century stately homes. They
sported lavish mosaic floors, wall paintings, marble statuary, columns
and balustrades. But few Romano-British villas were as posh as this.
The majority were considerably smaller and included houses, like
Sparsholt, farmhouses with outbuildings where owners could only afford
one mosaic. A villa wasn't just a building. The term villa includes
all outbuildings, for example, baths, shrines and barns. Most villas
were used as farms, however it has been suggested that Chedworth Villa
had other uses, for example a pilgrimage site. Most villas were
located in the south, in the 'low-land zone' of Britain. Most villas
were situated with a maximum of a ten mile distance from the nearest
town. Because typical villas were farms, they relied on roads and
towns to transport and sell their produce at the towns market. In this
question I will find out whether Chedworth was a typical Roman Villa,
by comparing it to other villas in the area and around Britain.
Many villas were built around the second century AD. Chedworth villa
is one of them. Chedworth villa was built in AD120 and lies in what
had once been the advance zone of the frontier in a countryside, which
was thickly dotted with 22 villa sites. This shows that this was an
intensely farmed, yet prosperous piece of land. There was also a
nearby stream, which was good for water, and keeping the land fertile.
There were good communication and trade links along this frontier,
because of the Fosse Way, and the two major towns, Corinium and
Glevum. Another villa with a similar location is Bignor. It was
located near Stane Street, for easy access to Londinium. North Leigh
Villa was located near Akeman Street, which was another major route in
Roman Britain. This makes Chedworth a typical villa as far as location
goes. It was near a major communications route, and had easy access to
towns. It was also near a stream, and was built on an intensely farmed
piece of land. As H.H Scullard said of typical villas, "One factor was
dominant in their choice of sites: their distance from the town.
Villas were working farms, and, therefore had to be in contact with
their markets, so that their viability depended on their access to
roads and towns".
There were many different types of villa. H.H Scullard described the
four main types of villa as "the cottage, the winged corridor, the
courtyard, and the aisled villa". Because it was hard to light the
inside of the villas, and land...