Keynsham Villa

Settlement and Villa

Keynsham Roman Villa (or Keynsham Cemetery Villa) refers to a cluster of villas built during the Roman occupation of Britain near Keynsham in Somerset, England. Two villas have been found, the larger of which is thought to be one of the grandest villas constructed in all of Britain. The sites have never been fully excavated, in part because portions of each are located underneath a cemetery, a major road, and the once shuttered Somerdale Chocolate Factory, which is now a housing estate.

Excavations in 1922-24 at Keynsham Cemetery uncovered a large and elaborate villa consisting of three corridors round a courtyard 209′ x 202′ underlying the cemetery and road embankment. Excavated 1922-24. The villa located  may be one of grandest villas ever built in Britain, and has even been compared to a small palace.

Archaeologists believe that this villa may have been the home a high ranking retired-army officer or civil servant, and it had over 30 rooms, hypocaust heated floors, and numerous elaborate and expensive mosaics. The rooms were connected by a veranda supported by a colonnade which ran around three sides of the courtyard.

Excavation in 1922 on the site of Fry’s Chocolate Factory uncovered a probable villa site; buildings, a bath house, altar and inhumations in stone coffins were found. A stone lined well  nearby was left in situ.

The foundations of the building were reconstructed near the entrance to the factory in 1927 and conform reasonably well with the excavation plan. The consolidated walling is from 0.1m to 0.4m high and mostly 0.6m thick.  To the south east of the building is a dump of several tons of medieval worked stones found in the construction of the Keynsham by-pass at the point where it cut through Keynsham Abbey.

Tessellated pavements removed and walls under graveyard destroyed after planning. Coins found from Victorinus (265 AD) to Valentinian (364-375).

A fragmentary part of the villa is exposed at ST 6451 6925 in Keynsham cemetery. It consists of a small irregular room with stone walling 1.0m high (the top of the walling is level with the ground surface). At this site there are also pieces of columns and stone drainage channelling.

There is a single inscription on stone recorded in the R.I.B. for Somerdale and Keynsham.

RIB 181 - Dedication to Silvanus

To the Divinities of the deified Emperors Gaius Indutius Felix willingly and deservedly fulfilled his vow to Silvanus …


For the expansion of Aug. as Aug(ustorum) see note to RIB 152.

Visiting Keynsham Villa

The villa is a fairly small open site on the edge of a new housing estate.  The remains of the villa itself are fairly average, however the mosaics from the villa are on display at the local library, they are excellent! The library forms part of the Keynsham Civic centre – a 2 minute drive away.

References for Keynsham  / Somerdale Villa

  • The Roman Inscriptions of Britain by R.G. Collingwood and R.P. Wright (Oxford 1965). 
  • Monument Number 201036

Map References for Somerdale Villa

NGRef: ST6460 OSMap: LR172

Roman Roads near Somerdale Villa

None identified

Sites near Keynsham Villa