Iwerne Villa


Iron Age Settlement and Roman Villa, near Park House Farm Buildings, were excavated in 1897 by General Pitt-Rivers. The site is on Upper Greensand, about 230 ft above sea-level, on a gentle rise in the low-lying ground at the head-waters of the R Iwerne; from S and E it is overlooked by the higher ground of the escarpment.

The Iron Age settlement is represented by numerous pits. From it came Durotrigian silver coins, a La Tenne I bronze brooch, a bronze belt-link, and a bone weaving comb.

In early Roman times the settlement was modified by the digging of ditches and sub-rectangular pits; finds of this period included coins from Vespasian to Commodus, brooches, and samian pottery of the 1st and 2nd centuries.

No house site was found, but there were suggestions that the centre of occupation lay NW of the excavated area.

During the 3rd century a building, nearly rectangular in plan, 112 ft by 39 ft with flint footings 3 ft wide, occupied the western part of the site. The NE end of the building was divided into three rooms, 8 ft in length and respectively 7 ft, 13 ft and 8 ft in width. The entrance was probably on the NE where post-holes for a porch were found. The rest of the building, with a pit or post-hole at the centre measuring 8 ft by 2 1/2 ft by 6 ft deep, was partly flint-paved; it has been suggested that it was an aisled barn, although no holes or bases for aisle-posts were noted. Coins ranging in date from Gordian I to Tacitus were found in or near the building.

Lastly, c AD 300, a substantial building was erected on an oblong site levelled into the rising ground on the E, some 25 ft away from the building described above; it measures 126 ft by 18 ft and the walls, of flint rubble, 2 1/2 ft to 3 1/2 ft in thickness, remain standing in places to a height of 6 ft (Plate 48). The main range is divided into four compartments, and a fifth room, 16 ft square, projects from the NW side. A corridor or outbuilding lay along the SE side. The compartment at the NE end, 15 ft long, may have been a porch. The adjacent room, 64 ft long, was probably a cattle-shed since a stone-filled drain 2 ft wide extended down the centre of the range from a point 28 ft from the SW end of the room; a quern was found in situ near the middle of the western part of the room. Next on the SW is a room 27 ft long, roughly paved, and communicating by axial doorways 2 ft wide with the rooms to NE and SW. The SW room is paved with small slabs of Kimmeridge shale and its walls, except on the NE, are lined with plaster, painted with rectangular panels above a broad dado-line. The fifth room, on the NW, has doubled walls, the inner of which, only 4 ft high probably carried a floor; this is likely to have been a granary.

Coins ranging from Maximian to Decentius and New Forest ware and coarse pottery, found during the excavations, indicate occupation of the building until c AD 360. (Arch J CIV (1947), pp50-62). Finds and models in Farnham Museum, Dorset. Photographs in DCM)’. (2)

The structural remains of the Roman villa as depicted on OS 25″ (a) have been ploughed out. The site is now marked by a heavy scatter of flints, tile, and some pottery sherds; it occupies a small terrace scarped into a gentle slope in an arable field. Pits attributed to the Iron Age settlement are no longer discernible as surface features. Farnham Museum, Dorset, is now closed; finds from the site have been transferred to Salisbury Museum (b).