Norton Disney Roman villa site warrants higher level of statutory protection, says Historic England
Historic England has announced that the site of a Roman villa warrants a higher level of statutory protection.
The site at Norton Disney has been further safeguarded through the enlarging of the boundaries of the scheduled ancient monument. Scheduling offers the highest possible legal protection to sites considered to be of national importance.
It follows an application on behalf of the Norton Disney History and Archaeology Group to review the original boundaries set in 1934, and which had not been reviewed since then.
In its review, Historic England considered new evidence, which came from the planning application submitted by Lincoln Proteins for a rendering plant on Villa Farm, opposite the Roman villa site.
The new evidence showed the villa was much bigger than previously thought and came from geophysics surveys carried out by the company in support of its application.
The new scheduling, now on the Historic England website, updates what what was previously known.
Richard Parker, secretary of the Norton Disney History and Archaeology Group, said: “The implication of the decision by Historic England also deals a major blow to the company’s ambitions for a second planning application for the Villa Farm site.
“Council planners are guided by local and national planning guidelines. They take account of the context and setting of any scheduled ancient monument, which is known as a designated heritage asset in planning terms.
“They normally do not allow the surrounding area of a scheduled ancient monument to be destroyed by a giant industrial plant, so it’s difficult to see how this new expansion of the boundaries to within a few feet of their site at Villa Farm is one Lincoln Proteins can get around.”
Norton Disney History and Archaeology Group has also announced the start of an investigation of an 11 hectare field next to the Roman villa seeking more evidence of the Iron Age and Roman periods.
The Norton Disney villa is a Romano-British villa believed to be from the 1st Century AD and continued in occupation to the mid-4th Century with evidence of several phases of construction and reconstruction.
At its greatest extent it included a corridor dwelling-house, a bath suite, a basilican building and a gatehouse and was enclosed within a series of perimeter ditches.
Historic England said the reason for the designation was that Roman villas were among the most characteristic settlements of the Roman period and as such were of great national importance.
“The villa adds to our understanding of Romano-British society over several centuries and should be considered as a very important component within a wider landscape of Roman Britain, connecting with features such as the Fosse Way and the major settlements along its route,” it said.
The villa west of Hill Holt Farm was reputed to be a Roman pottery owing to the frequent unearthing of terracotta artefacts there.
Farm work in 1933, which included the destruction of part of the site, uncovered a mosaic pavement and the villa was identified for the first time in the modern era.
The site was excavated by Adrian Oswald between 1934 and 1937.