Combe Villa

Roman Villa

An inscription recovered from the Romano-British villa at Combe Down (vide R.I.B. 179 supra) would seem to indicate that by the early-third century the Provincial Procurator had relocated his offices to a palatial residence outside Aquae Calidae (Bath, Avon). It is possible that this villa was the winter quarters of the chief financial officer of Britannia, away from the hustle and bustle of the commercial centre at Londinium, where the stresses of procuratorship could be eased away in the naturally heated waters of the nearby springs sacred to the goddess Sul-Minerva.

RIB179 - Dedication to Caracalla?

PRO SALVTE IMP CES M AVR
ANTONINI PII FELICIS INVIC
TI AVG NAEVIVS AVG
LIB ADIVT PROC PRINCI
PIA RVINA OPRESS A SOLO RES
TITVIT
For the welfare of the Emperor Caesar Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Pius Felix Invictus Augustus, Naevius, imperial freedman, procurators' assistant, restored from ground-level these ruined Headquarters.
Antoninus: Probably Caracalla, a.d. 212-17; it could be Elagabalus.This inscription presumably came from the Combe Down buildings, or a previous structure on their site. The term principia cannot here refer to the headquarters-building of a fort. Presumably it denotes the headquarters of local procuratorial administration. The leaden sealing found in the building (Huebner (ed.), Ephemeris Epigraphica Vol. iv, addit. tertia (1881) 707, EE ix p. 516) may be expanded as p(rovinciae) Br(itanniae) S(uperioris), and had been affixed to official packages. (Richmond, Cumb. Westm. AAST 2nd Ser. 36 (1936) 124; Wright, Cumb. Westm. AAST 2nd Ser. 54 (1954) 103.)It is possible that the procurators were administering imperial estates on the pattern well known in Africa (see Schulten, Die römischen Grundherrschaften (1896) 62, Richmond, JRS 35 (1945) 21). More localized developments, such as stone-quarries, are also possible. Addenda from RIB+add. (1995): The leaden sealing found here is now RIB 2411.37 (in the Roman Baths Museum, Bath).

There were stone quarries about a mile to the west at The Tumps (ST7462), and other roman villas at Wellow (ST7257) and Iford (ST7958), about 4 miles to the south-west and south-east respectively.

References for Combe Down

  • Chronicle of the Roman Emperors by Chris Scarre (Thames & Hudson, London, 1995);
  • The Roman Inscriptions of Britain by R.G. Collingwood and R.P. Wright (Oxford 1965). 

Map References for Combe Down

NGRef: ST7662 OSMap: LR172

Roman Roads near Combe Down

NNW (1.5) to Aqvae Svlis (Bath, Avon) SSE (16) to Cold Kitchen Hill