Excavations At Roxby Roman Villa 1989

A mosaic floor with a geometric design was first found in 1699. Subsequent excavations successively revealed and damaged the floor until in 1972 it was recorded and drawn, in excavations conducted by G.C. Knowles, then curator of Scunthorpe Museum. In September 1989 an archaeological evaluation was undertaken by a two-man team from the Humberside Archaeological Unit. The work, which was under-taken in advance of development to the north of the mosaics, by Snipe Properties Ltd., was entirely funded by them. The evaluation was undertaken in order to assess the level of potential damage to the Roman building which contained the mosaic pavements. From the position of the mosaic pavements it was thought that they belonged to a building running north-south, so two trenches were cut by machine to establish the extent of this building in the area of the proposed development.

The 1989 excavation has demonstrated that the building did not extend northwards for any great distance, and this, together with the shallow nature of the north wall, has suggested that the building is in fact an aisled structure with the mosaic pavements forming the flooring of a suite of rooms at one end of the building. A bath-house may also have formed part of the accommodation.

This accommodation formed the “upper end” and would have been occupied by the owner of the farm. The remainder of the building would have been open and more barn-like and formed the “lower end” where the farm workers would have lived and worked. Similar buildings were excavated at the Roman villa at Winterton which is only 1.5 km away to the north-west. These massive buildings, (the Roxby building may have been up to 20 metres wide and 40-50 metres long) might have formed part of a much larger establishment, as at Winterton, or stood alone, combining the functions of owner’s house and farm building under the same roof. Previous excavations have shown that the building did not extend eastwards.

So, as a result of this evaluation we are now postulating a building extending westwards from the site of the mosaics for a distance of at least 40 metres and perhaps up to 60 metres, this area must now be regarded as archaeologically sensitive, and any development in this area should be preceded by an archaeological examination. In this context, due to the shallowness of the topsoil, even the digging of foundations for a garden wall or putting up a concrete clothes post is likely to destroy any archaeological deposits which may be present.

Archaeology Unit, Property Services Department, Humberside County