The villa stood in the centre of a large farming estate and was discovered in 1942 when a farmer digging out a ferret found oyster shells and tiles. Local antiquarian Morley Hewitt, with a band of volunteers devoted the next 30 years to unearthing the villa, which is the largest known Roman villa in the area. Above part of the hypocaust - underfloor heating system at Rockbourne. During the excavation over 70 rooms were discovered, although they were not all of the same period. The site's history spans the period from the Iron Age to the 5th century. Since 1979 the site has been owned by Hampshire County Council with most of the excavations now backfilled to prevent further damage.