Skip to main content
Read page text

Page Text

In one corner of the large enclosure at Dicket Mead is a building which looks like 'an overgrown cricket pavilion'. This drawing, by R. J. Eaton, shows the building in its heyday.


LOCKLEYS T HE Lockleys Roman villa is one of the best-known villas in the country. It was originally dug in 1937 by J. B. Ward Perkins, then a young disciple of Sir Mortimer Wheeler, now Director of the British School at Rome. At the time it was one of the first villas to be properly excavated in a way that would allow its full history to be reconstructed. It began, apparently, as a Belgic hut, which was then converted into a Roman villa, thus providing for the first time continuity from Belgic settlement to Roman villa. The villa went through several periods until it was finally deserted towards the end of the 4th century.

doned in the 2nd and part of the 3rd century. However, not all the villa was excavated. The area around Lockleys, being not far from St. Albans, is rich in Roman sites, and recent work has revealed other Roman buildings not far away.

The new Site

Indeed, such was the excellence of the excavation that it has been possible for Dr. Graham Webster to reinterpret it. In the new book Roman Villas in Britain, he points out that there may have been several gaps in its occupation. In particular the evidence for continuity from Belgic to Roman was not conclusive, while the whole site may have been abanĀ­

The Lockleys villa stands high up on the side of the valley of the river Mimram. The presence of Roman tiles sticking out of the river bank, 300 metres to the south-west has led to excavations that have now been carried out over a 10 year period. The site is known as Dicket Mead and it is today used as the playing fields of Sherrardswood School, and the excavations have been carried out by the Lockleys Archaeological Society under the direction of Tony Rook, who teaches science at the school. The excavations were originally organised as a training ground for rescue diggers, and a considerable team has now been built up, with a hard core of 20 or so who are prepared to dig rescue sites at short notice all the year round.

The new site consists of a large walled enclosure, 106 metres across and of unknown breadth, for the south-eastern side has not yet been located. The river Mimram, which today flows along the north-eastern edge of the enclosure, ran in the Roman period in a canal right across the middle of the site: its course shows up as a dark streak running across the air photos. In the enclosure itself two buildings have so far been discovered, one at the northern corner, and one at the western.

The northern building, the first to be excavated, has been described as an overgrown cricket pavilion. Along the front is a wide verandah, raised on longitudinal sleeper beams, and fronted by a high colonnade. Along


My Bookmarks

Skip to main content