For gardeners with a sense of history

OE wyrtig, adj: Garden-like, full of plants;
On anum wyrtige hamme, Homl. Skt. ii. 30:312




Early gardens

Early plants

Growing heirloom plants

Garden folklore

Resources for gardeners

Site map

Contact us

Gorhambury Villa

Gorhambury Villa, located about a mile west of Verulamium (St. Albans), evolved on the site of a simple Iron Age farmstead whose rectangular wooden house was burned in 60 CE, perhaps during the Boudican Revolt. By 100 CE a new a masonry villa with an unusual, apsed main room above a cellar, had risen in its place.

Rather than a wall, a ditch enclosed this villa's farmstead and its two courtyards. The inner courtyard was the site of the villa farmhouse, while the outer courtyard held several outbuildings, including a bath suite and an aisled hall.

A broad avenue led across a causeway over the ditch, through an impressive gate on the east side of the inner courtyard, and ended at the main entrance of the house. This path was paralleled on its northern edge by a line of trees or shrubs, evidenced by a row of planting holes spaced about 15 feet apart and filled with richer soil.

More rows of evenly spaced holes suggest the presence of arbors or trellised plant supports in front of the southeast corner of the house. These date to the early 100s CE, and were contemporary with the villa. By the end of the second century, these garden features had been removed, and new paths and tracks had been created.


  • Excavation of the Iron Age, Roman and Medieval Settlement at Gorhambury, St. Albans, D.S. Neal, DS, et al.

  • Food and Farming, St. Alban's Museum - Artist's rendering of Gorhambury villa

  • Gardens of Roman Britain, W.F. Jashemski (English Heritage Report 14, London, 1990)

  • Gorhambury, A. Selkirk (Current Archaeology 87, 1983).

  • The Roman House in Britain, Dominic Perring



Home | Early gardens | Early plants | Growing heirloom plants | Garden folklore | Resources | Site map


Botanists are among those who know that, in spite of the rude shocks of life,
it is well to have lived, and to have seen the everlasting beauty of the world.
F.D. Drewitt


Copyright 2015 S.E.S. Eberly
All Rights Reserved

Contact us