Bancroft Roman Villa
There is still much to be discovered about the nature of Roman buildings
in Britain. Excavations provide a wealth of detail regarding the layout
of roman villas but what form would the elevations have taken? Sadly,
much of this information has disappeared through the centuries.
For this reason, the card model on this page does not purport to be
a definitive representation of a Roman villa in Britain but rather it
is intended to encourage thought and promote discussion.
Note: Links to the model can be found at the bottom of this page and
guidance on downloading can be found on our help page.
Our model villa is based on information from two sources. The floor
plan is a direct copy of the roman villa excavated at Bancroft, Milton
Keynes, between 1973 and 1985. This villa dates from between AD 170
and AD 340.
The card model created to sit on top of the Bancroft floor-plan is
based on the experimental Roman villa constructed at Butser Ancient
Farm in 2002 / 2003.
Building work at Butser was constrained by a number of factors. Perhaps
you can find out what these were and what their impact was on the end
The Roman landscape in Milton Keynes was a settled, intensely farmed
rural area, with a mixture of native farmsteads and villas in the Roman
style. The inhabitants of these "Roman" villas were probably
natives copying Roman fashion and not new settlers. Cattle and sheep
were the most common animals kept and wheat and oats the favoured crops.
Click on the adjacent image to see a simple two-frame animation of
the site at Bancroft, with and without our Roman villa model superimposed.
There are actually two versions of our roman villa model available
on this page. The first is a large, full colour version that needs to
be printed on five sheets of A4 (including the base). The second model
is smaller and requires only 2 sheets of A4 card.
The smaller model has plain white surfaces and is ideal for class work.
This allows you, the builder, to experiment with different textures.
After conducting your research into Roman buildings adapt your model
villa to reflect your findings.
You could even make new components for your model. Should the villa
be taller? It is possible that the villa at Bancroft had an upper floor.
Is the pitch of the roof sufficient? Roofs may have been pitched more
steeply on villas in Britain than in the rest of the Roman empire, not
least to make them more resistant to tile loss or damage in the higher
wind speeds that are prevalent in Northern Europe.
Roman villas tended to have brightly coloured roof tiles. Although
the budget for Butser's Roman villa could not stretch to such an opulent
roof covering, the team achieved good results creating a small representative
panel of diagonal tiles. The roof on our larger model villa employs
this tile pattern.
The veranda was an important part of the Roman Villa. It is generally
understood that Romano-British villas featured half open verandas, however,
an enclosed one like Butser's would certainly make things more comfortable
during a British winter. While there is much evidence that the main
building and corridor had separate roofs (unlike Butser's villa and
our card model) numerous wall paintings from Pompeii depict villas without
upper storeys. Perhaps the single storey appearance of Butser's Roman
villa is not completely unrealistic after all?
Perhaps you'd like to create a detachable roof for your model and add
internal detail? Mosaic floors were a very popular feature of Roman
villas. At Bancroft Roman villa, mosaic floors were laid in nearly every
room. You can see an example of one of these beautiful mosaics if you
make a trip to Milton Keynes shopping centre. The mosaic is to be found
hanging in one of the corridors alongside Queens Court. It was discovered
during the excavation at Bancroft and formed the floor of a small room
adjacent to the principal bath suite. It was most probably laid around
Further reading - Butser, by Nadia Durrani, an article from Current Archaeology
No. 188, pages 336 to 339