Postgraduate Research Archaeology Symposium

Adam Hussey (2016)

Keywords: Devon, Dorset, Roman, Villa, Architecture, Social Theory, Society, Landscape, Building, Status, South West, Roman Britain, Settlement, Romano-British, Elite, Power, Identity, Display, Space, Spatial Theory, Mosaics, Painted Wall Plaster.


My research aims to understand how the Romano-British villa in Devon and Dorset functioned as a building by looking at it from an architectural, spatial and social perspective.  I will take an integrated approach and assess all the aspects which make up the villa; building design, room and spatial layout, architectural and decorative adornment and archaeological evidence of activity. A specific focus of my work is on the decorative schemes used in these spaces; study tends to view these in a disjointed way but I wish to examine them (mosaics, painted wall plaster and architecture) as one body of evidence. Special attention will be paid to painted wall plaster which has currently received almost no analysis of any sort.

I will employ these indicators to suggest how people used and experienced these spaces, an ideas known as ‘’Architectural Experience’’, how they moved through them and how they interacted within them. Through the concept of space – I will draw on architectural and social theories- I hope to understand how the villa operated as a place of living on a social level. I wish to highlight how villa was involved in the formation and assertion of their inhabitant’s social and cultural identities.

To undertake my research, as there has been limited publication of sites, I am returning to all the excavated materials. I have been working alongside a number of museums, who have been most forth coming, in an attempt to examine and record all architectural and decorative villa fragments held in their respective collections. I will share my findings through public outreach.

I will highlight these issues in my presentation through a single case study: Holcombe Villa.