North Leigh Roman Villa - History and Facts | History Hit

North Leigh Roman Villa

West Oxfordshire, England, United Kingdom

North Leigh Roman Villa was a first century villa, the remains of which can be seen in Oxfordshire.

Antara Bate

24 Nov 2020
Image Credit: Wikimedia CC

About North Leigh Roman Villa

North Leigh Roman Villa was built in the first century in what is now modern day Oxfordshire, UK.

Archaeologists believe that North Leigh Roman Villa was once a substantial building made up of approximately sixty rooms, however, all that remains today are its ruins.

The main feature of the site is its preserved brown and red mosaic floor, which is now covered and is almost complete. North Leigh Roman Villa is an English Heritage site.

North Leigh Roman Villa history

This Roman villa is considered to be one of the larger villas of Roman Britain, at its most extensive in the early 4th century with three bath suites, 16 mosaic floors and 11 rooms with underfloor heating.

Discoveries of pre-Roman Iron Age pottery and other evidence suggest that before the roman villa was built, there was an Iron Age settlement at the site.

The south west and north east wings were added early in the 3rd century and the original north west range was likely entirely rebuilt. Buildings beyond the villa suggest that the villa may have had a home farm.

The villa declined and is thought to have been abandoned in the 5th century AD after the withdrawal of Roman troops from Britain and the breakdown of central administration in the province.

North Leigh Roman Villa is noted for its early 4th-century mosaic floor that was lifted and relaid in 1929. It is now displayed under a cover building on the site. The building protecting the floor is one of two built by the landowner, the Duke of Marlborough, following excavations between 1813 and 1817, and after two other mosaics had been destroyed by people seeking souvenirs.

North Leigh Roman Villa today

Two ranges of the former courtyard arrangement of the villa are visible today. There are several information panels around the site, including a map of the site, showing when the different parts of the villa were built.

Getting to North Leigh Roman Villa

The remains of this Roman villa are located in a peaceful rural landscape, within a loop of the River Evenlode. As visitors approach along a bridleway, the Roman villa site is visible below to the right, and two sides of its rectangular plan can be seen.

The site is 2 miles north of North Leigh west of Oxford, on a minor road off the A4095. Visitors can access it on foot from parking layby. The 11 and 242 buses both stop nearby. The nearest train station is Hanborough.