Survey reveals dramatic images of Roman villa in Plumpton


Fresh light has been shone on a Roman villa discovered deep in the East Sussex countryside.

A geophysical survey to the north of Plumpton Agricultural College has provided dramatic clear images of the villa that lies below the fields between the South Downs and the Roman road along the Greensand Ridge.

The existence of the villa has been known since the mid-1970s, when chalk and flint was brought to the surface by ploughing in the shape of the building, but these new images show the layout in much more detail and also prove the effectiveness of the college’s ‘set aside’ policy over the area of the remains.

The resistivity survey was undertaken by volunteers under the supervision of local archaeologist David Millum, for the Sussex School of Archaeology, as part of a wider survey by Chris Butler Archaeological Services on behalf of Plumpton College.

While the magnetic variation survey used over the larger area revealed several unknown features, the results were disappointing on the villa site but the electrical resistance survey, which shows the differences in moisture in the soil, picked out the remains clearly.

The image appears to show a building of eight to nine rooms, around 40 metres wide facing south with protruding wings at each end. The more intense readings to the western wing may indicate a heated room or even a small bath suite.

The Sussex School of Archaeology has a programme of exciting courses planned for 2014 which will include week long excavation training at the villa site during July and early August. The school is also running the annual Sussex Archaeological Symposium on March 15 at Brighton University and two landscape study events at Plumpton College, The Archaeology of Fields on June 21 and Farming Practices and Archaeology on October 25. It has also managed to secure Julian Richards, of BBC Meet the Ancestors fame, to talk about the new developments at Stonehenge for the Holleyman Lecture at Sussex University on April 3.

So it is going to be a busy and exciting year for archaeology in Sussex with the school providing reasonably priced courses to the public, full day conferences and more specialised training courses for both amateur and professional archaeologists.

For a full list of the wide range of courses and events available see the school’s website or telephone the headquarters on 01323 811785.