Oxfordshire's Historic Archives

Historic Oxfordshire

Preserving and Enhancing Access to Historic Oxfordshire
Records of Archaeological Work held by the Ashmolean Museum

Site Name: Ditchley

Site Location: Central Oxfordshire
Related Achive: Harden and Manning

The Roman villa site in Watts Wells Field at Ditchley is mentioned in the archives of Donald Harden and Percy Manning. Aerial photographs taken by Major G.W.G. Allen helped reveal the scale of the villa.

The site was excavated in 1935 by C.A Ralegh Radford. D.B. Harden was on the Watts Wells Excavation Committee at the time and helped make the site a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

The excavation discovered a winged corridor type house at the north end of a large courtyard enclosure. Some of the rooms in the house were particularly fine with paved floors and painted plaster walls. A relatively large amount of glass and fine pottery, including samian ware, bronze brooches, pins and a terret ring all indicate that this was a villa of some status and wealth.

The courtyard enclosure also contained a granary, threshing floor and another building, the purpose of which remains uncertain. These features point to the agricultural function of the site.

The villa was first occupied from about AD70 to about AD200 when a fire destroyed the original house. The villa remained deserted for sometime until a large house was later built on the same site.

Coins found indicate that the site was probably abandoned during the fifth century.

The finds from this excavation are now held by the Ashmolean Museum.


C.A. Ralegh Radford (1936) "The Roman Villa at Ditchley, Oxon", Oxoniensia I, pp24-69.

Aerial Photographs

Click on picture to see a larger image
Watts Wells Villa before excavation
Watts Wells Roman Villa before excavation taken by Major Allen on 16 June 1934 (Ref Album 7,26)
Watts Wells Villa during excavation
Watts Wells Roman Villa during excavation taken by Major Allen on 23 September 1935 (Ref Album 10,17)
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