THE remains of a third-century Roman villa, found during excavations for a new bypass, have been declared a monument of national importance by Historic England.

A small part of the “high status” site which covers a large area next to the A1 will be lost as it is in the path of the new £34m Bedale, Aiskew and Leeming Bar bypass.

The designation of the site as a Scheduled Monument was revealed at the full meeting of North Yorkshire County Council by Cllr Chris Metcalfe who said the designation will have no impact on the building of the road which is due to be completed in autumn 2016.

He added: “The area directly affected by the road has been fully excavated and the remainder is being characterised through cleaning and recording of the upper surfaces.”

The foundations of the villa survived and based on their size, it is believed the villa was two stories high with a tile and stone slate roof, easily visible from the nearby Roman road, Dere Street. There was a real statement of the importance of the owners with well-appointed rooms, under-floor heating, glass windows and painted walls.

Historic England, the public body which safeguards special sites, say the area had been listed because of its “period and rarity” as an exceptionally large Roman villa. Most villas which have been unearthed are in the south and the midlands.

A spokesman added: “Overall the monument has considerable archaeological potential to inform us about a significant Roman villa in third and fourth-century Yorkshire.

“It has been suggested that the main villa building was designed to form an impressive landmark to those travelling along Dere Street between the Roman towns at Alborough ,25km south, and Catterick ,10km north.”

They believe the villa was used for up to 150 years before being abandoned and was then systematically robbed of building stone for use on neighbouring sites.

The spokesman added: “Roman villas represent the most high status rural settlements occupied during the first to fourth centuries AD, their buildings forming the focus of extensive rural estates. Although some were probably built by settlers from the wider Roman Empire, many are thought to have been built by the native elite, often sited on or nearby earlier Iron Age farmsteads.”

The wider site is thought to stretch for over 75 metres and includes evidence of a bath house and underfloor heating.