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Rockbourne


Rockbourne Village and the Roman Villa

Even in an area abounding in picturesque, peaceful little villages, Rockbourne still stands out as the gem of gems.

Situated on the western edge of the National park not far from Fordingbridge, Rockbourne runs along the line of the winter bourne (stream), which flows through the valley and has a main street lined with cottages made with brick, cob and thatch. Rockbourne also boasts picket fences and small bridges over the stream.

There is also a welcoming and hospitable thatched village pub (‘The Rose and Thistle’), an imposing Manor House, containing buildings from several periods and a barn from the 13th Century; and also Saxon Church sitting high above the village.

This is a village that looks as if it hasn’t changed for centuries and, fittingly, is in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The area surrounding the village of Rockbourne has evidence of settlement dating back to the earliest prehistoric times, with many barrows and enclosures. By the time of the great Domesday Book, there were about 31 families living in the twin manors of Rockbourne and Rockstead but they eventually combined into the single village of Rockbourne.

The nearest larger town is Fordingbridge, 3.5 miles away, with its famous medieval arched bridge which crosses the River Avon.

Rockbourne is, nowadays, mainly linked with the Roman Villa and Museum just to the south of the village. Famously discovered in 1942 by a local farmer when he discovered some oyster shells and tile remnants as he was digging his ferret out of a rabbit warren, Rockbourne Roman Villa was one of the biggest archaeological finds in Hampshire and is a fascinating place to visit.

The main structure was an impressive large residence built on three sides of a large courtyard, which included within it luxurious Roman mosaics and bath suites. In addition, there were farm buildings and workshops. The villa was occupied until the 5th century AD.

Rockbourne Roman Villa also has a site museum, with some fascinating artefacts uncovered in the excavations, including a fragment of a leather sandal and a perfect footprint left by a worker in a hobnailed boot!

So if you are visiting Rockbourne go and visit the Villa itself, along with the museum, as this will provide you with a fascinanting picture of Roman life was like here 1600 years ago.

The Rockbourne Roman Villa is open daily from March 21st until September 30th, from 10.30am until 6 pm, with last admissions at 5.30.


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