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The Roman Villa and farming.

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Introduction

Farming As mentioned in the first project, prior to the Roman invasion, the British mainly worked on the land. Many people supported themselves by working on the land, either as a farm worker or by owning their own land. However, the farms were not the big commercial enterprises we see today with crops, livestock and produce sold to make a profit. The farms in Roman Britain primarily supported the farmer and the workers and if there was any surplus that was sold at market. The farmer and his family lived in circular houses that consisted of just one room. In this one room they would cook, eat and sleep and even keep animals. If they had slaves that worked on the farm, the slaves had a smaller version of the circular house and these houses were spread out around the farm. The farmer would have grown crops similar to ones we find today, like barley, oats and wheat. ...read more.

Middle

The fire was the only method of cooking all the families' food. The houses were circular to minimise the amount of heat loss and the roof was shaped to allow rain and snow to run off easily. A very important factor when you consider the British climate. However, the Romans completely changed British farming. Not only did the Romans introduce new farming tools which made the British farmer more efficient, they also introduced the British farmer to a much higher standard of living by showing him how they built their houses and the higher standards of living accommodation they expected. Instead of a simple, cold wooden hut, the Roman villas were built of stone so were much warmer and stronger. They included central heating or the hypocaust system and sometimes running water. The walls were painted, the floors covered in intricate mosaics and the villas had glazed windows. These grand houses also needed furniture and decorations, which other than basics, were previously missing from the British farmhouse. ...read more.

Conclusion

Household slaves were often used in a household because of their skills, ie teaching, so had a much more important and personal role to play. The farms were large and had large number of slaves. The slaves would be working outside all day and would have very little contact with their master and would not develop any kind of relationship with them. This was quite different to the household slave who was often providing an essential and personal service, their masters often came to rely on them and would know their name. In fact, one Roman landowner described farm slaves as 'farming equipment with voices'. Master were known to mistreat their farm slaves and even though farm slaves did have some protection and a farmer could be charged with murder if he killed a slave, this was often ignore. A sick, or injured farm slave was useless to a farmer and became an unnecessary expense so they were often killed. However, by the first century AD, slaves were becoming increasingly scarce and therefore expensive to buy, so farmers did start treating them better. ...read more.

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