There was a significant difference between the south-eastern half of Britannia (the Roman name for Britain) and the north-western region. In the south-east Roman style country homes known as villas were established. In the north and west of Britain, few villas have been found.
Not all Romans lived in villas. The majority of people living in the country lived in houses in the style of the celtic houses. These houses were usually round and made of timber and thatched.
Did you know?
Only one percent of people in Roman Britain lived in villas.
How do we know what Roman houses were like?
A lot of building material has survived from the Roman period, but mainly for buildings constructed of stone and tile. There is little evidence of wattle and daub buildings, which are thought to have been used throughout the Roman period.
Roman houses, especially ones belonging to rich people, were so well built that the remains of villas and even towns have been found.
We can tell from these finds that:
- the Romans were good builders
- most people of Roman Britain lived in the countryside
- rich Romans living in the country, lived in villas and everyone else lived in huts.
- Some people lived in the towns
Using the evidence found, artists make drawings of what Roman houses may have looked like. Our understanding of what Roman houses were like change each year as more evidence is uncovered.
Below you can see three drawings of the Roman Villa at Lullingstone. They were drawn or painted at different times but show what the villa may have looked like around AD 360. Each one is slightly different, reflecting the changing information and opinions about how the site may have looked - as well as different artistic styles.
In the first painting the view is from above, as a bird might see it. The walls are not plastered and there is a court yard next to the central rooms. The second painting does not have a front entrance up a ramp or steps as the other two have.
None of these illustrations are 'right' - each is a separate attempt at picturing the past.
Reconstruction by Alan Sorrell (1961)
Reconstruction byGraham Sumner (1991)
Reconstruction by Peter Dunn (2000)
More about Roman Houses
Visit our main pages about life in Roman Britain.
We have photographs of Roman soldiers and lots of information in an easy to read format