IT is temptin g at times to play down the effects of the Roman invasion. There are sites, such as Gorhambury, which appear to progress easily from Belgic country house to Roman Villa and it is easy to see this as the norm and to believe that the invasion had little more effect than a general election. This, however, was not always the case, and Frocester Court in Gloucestershire is possibly an example of the more traumatic effects of the Roman invasion.
Froceste r began , lik e Gorhambury, as a country house of the late Iron Age, but the Roman invasion proved to be a disaster: the occupants backed the wrong side, and for two centuries had to struggle to regain a measure of prosperity. It was not until the late third century that the villa for which Frocester is well known was founded, though the excavations have revealed that this continued for a further 300 years. It is this long time span from the Belgic throughout the Roman period and down into the Dark Ages, which makes Frocester a site of outstanding importance.
Frocester Court is one of the longest running excavations in the country, as the owner/farmer, Mr Eddie Price has been excavating there every summer since 1960. Frocester lies 10 miles south of Gloucester and is well known to architectural historians as the site of one of the largest stone-built tithe barns in the country (Mr Price spent 8 years re-roofing it; see photo, right). However he had long been aware that the field opposite the farm, known as Stanborough, produced building remains every time it was ploughed, and so in 1959 when Captain Gracie, that well known stalwart of Gloucestershire archaeology was excavating nearby, he took some of the finds over.
Captain Gracie at once identified them as being Roman and they decided to excavate, eventually revealing the remains of a small but well built Roman villa with a walled courtyard garden in front.
In 1977 Captain Gracie retired from the excavation field (he died in 1978) and since then Mr Price has continued directing the excavation
This field is known as Stanborough and is the site of the Roman villa. The medieval and modern farm is to the right, while some excavation trenches can be seen top centre.
Below: This medieval tythe barn was originally built for the Grange farm of Gloucester Abbey. It is reputed to be the largest in the country, and Mr Price recently spent eight years re-roofing it.