The villa at Nuth-Steenland
Excavations provided relatively little information for the reconstruction of this modest Limburg villa complex. Kees Peterse’s visualisation shows a rectangular principal house with a portico in the façade and a walled courtyard on the side. The computer-generated images also show the surrounding grounds and outbuildings.
Plan of the villa from the archaeological excavation report of 1882.
On a plateau north west of Arensgenhout in the municipality of Beekdaelen (until 2019 municipality of Nuth), the remains of a Roman villa are located on both sides of the current Diepestraat road. These remains were first investigated in 1850 and more extensively in 1876. According to the archaeological excavation report published in 1882, the villa covered a rectangular piece of ground measuring 95.8 by 256 meters, surrounded by a wall. Traces of buildings were found about 190 meters apart on both short sides of the estate. In 2004 and 2008, parts of the villa grounds underwent new archaeological investigation.
The finds on the villa site date from the second half of the 1st century to the end of the 3rd century. The principal building was likely on the western short side of the estate. The schematic plan drawn up in 1876 could be supplemented in 2004 on a few points.
On commission by the municipality of Nuth, Kees Peterse made a reconstruction of the principal building of the villa in 2010, presented as a series of still renderings (2D reconstructions). One of the renderings is displayed on a plaque mounted on top of a short base located at the Steenland ‘archaeological rest stop’ created by the municipality near the site, at the intersection of the Diepestraat and Provincialeweg roads.
The starting point for the reconstruction was the floor plan from the archaeological excavation report of 1882, which shows a building with several rooms (a to g) and two outbuildings (h and i) connected to the main building by walls or fences. In the reconstruction, area b has been interpreted as a walled courtyard between the principal building (a, c and g) and one of its free-standing wings (d and e).
Left: plan of the principal building from the archaeological excavation report of 1882.
Right: reconstructed view from above of the principal building with surrounding landscaping. Drawing by Kees Peterse.
The principal building covers a rectangle of approximately 16.5 by 27.5 meters, divided into a series of rooms of approximately 11.5 by 27.5 metres and an approximately 5-metre-deep colonnade (a) in front. Room g is a cellar that was accessible by steps going down from the large room in the middle. The inner courtyard is approximately 7 by 15 metres and in the reconstruction is paved with brick tiles. The free-standing wing on the far side of the courtyard may have been a small bath suite.
Apart from the colonnade, in the reconstruction the villa house has few architectural accents. Above the entrance gate to the courtyard, the wall between the principal building and the detached wing has been raised and given a tiled roof. Small monopitch roofs have also been fitted above the door to the free-standing wing and a door at the back of the house; these elements served to protect the wood from rain.
Reconstructed outside views of the principal building of the villa. Still renderings by Gerard Jonker.
To learn more
J. Habets, Une colonie belgo-romaine au Ravensbosch près de Fauquemont, Bulletin des Commissions Royales d’Art et d’Archéologie 21, 1882, 127-150.
T. de Groot, De Romeinse villa’s in het Limburgse lössgebied: resultaten van recent onderzoek op wettelijk beschermde monumenten, Historische Studies Geuldal 17, 2007, 38-105 (hier 64-72).