Excavating the Roman villa at Piddington, with room 16 in the foreground. The tessellated pavement in room 13 can be seen to the right.
PIDDINGTON T WO of our leading amateur excavators, Roy and Diana Friendship-Taylor, are currently excavating a major Roman villa at Piddington, five miles south east of Northampton. The excavation followed on from their work in the neighbouring parish of Quinton, where between 1971 and 1977 they excavated two Roman buildings, 70 yards apart, which apparently formed part of an abortive Roman settlement which was abandoned around 175 AD and only partially re-occupied in the fourth century. The whole settlement apparently covered some eight acres and in addition to the Roman strip buildings there were also two round houses, one of the Belgic period, distinguished by a circular timber slotted gully and two opposed doorways, and the other of the later fourth century. The report of these two excavations, including an extensive pottery catalogue, has been published in the Journal of the Northampton Museums, Volume 11 and 13 and are available from the authors at 86, Main Road, Hackleton, Northampton, price vol. 11. £1.40 & vol. 13. £6.00 inc post and packing.
In the course of their excavations at Quinton, a farm in the neighbouring parish of Piddington changed hands and some fields previously pasture, were ploughed up and promptly revealed extensive Roman remains. The local vicar was first on the scene with his metal detector and dug along some walls, but then the Friendship-Taylors and the Upper Nene Archaeological Society together with Paul and Charmian Woodfield moved in and with the help and support of the farmer, they have been excavating the site since 1979. Now, after three seasons work, they have uncovered half of what appears to be the main wing of a very large villa.
The villa suffers from having been extensively robbed. The first robbing appears to have been in the early part of the fourth century, when the villa was converted to industrial use. It was then robbed again at the end of the Roman period; yet further robbings took place in Tudor times as indicated by the appearance of Midland Purple Ware, and there was further extensive robbing, or should we say excavation?—in the 18th century, indicated by quantities of clay pipes and pottery. Indeed, T. G. George , in his Survey of Northamptonshire, records that a mosaic pavement was found at Piddington in 1781. Unfortunately none of these mosaics appear to have survived except as a scatter of loose tesserae. However, as excavations proceed it is hoped that better preserved areas of the villa will be found.
The villa had a long history. There appears to have been some Belgic occupation, but there was a gap in the late first century and it was first built as a villa in the Hadrianic period during the first quarter of the second century. Then, like other villas in eastern England, it was