|A basic farm |
at Pont-Remy (Somme).
|Small villa with a gallery on one side. The main dwelling is hardly larger than the small modern house visible in the foreground to the right. Mercatel (Pas-de-Calais).|
|Church (14th century) and chateau (17th century) in the Somme.||
|Gallo-Roman settlements: Developing the land|
|Small and medium-sized villas|
|Smaller-scale villas also exist. In nearly all of them, the overall layout is identical. Most are between 200 and 300 meters long. This length is already considerable. Others are 100 to 200 meters in length, which is still noteworthy. In these small and medium-sized villas, we find the two courtyards and almost always the two principal residences.|
When they can be observed, the outbuildings are arranged in the same fashion. In only 4 or 5% of cases, they are placed in no apparent order, but are these really villas?
Finally, there is what geographers call the "basic farm", that is, a house and a barn that face each other, but 75% of the villas located in the wheat fields are more than 200 meters long. It is true, however, that these structures are the least likely to escape the eye of the aerial prospector.
It is the largest villas that dominate the scene, even if they were enlarged gradually, and reached their full size by the early third century, as excavations show.
The villa is the very basis of Romanization, the fundamental victory of Rome, compared with the cities, whose too-ambitious development plans had to be partially curtailed. The villas — systematically built on the best land, following the directions of Roman agronomists as to their organization, orientation, topographical location, and two-courtyard layout — constitute the normal method for developing the land throughout this Galliarum planior.
It was the apogee and the apotheosis of large-scale rural structures in which, uncommonly, the farm buildings and the main residence (a veritable "chateau") formed a coherent whole, planned according to architectural principles, and just as much a monument to prestige as it was a source of revenue.|
In contrast, in the rural chateaus of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the seigneurial farm was pushed to one side, with buildings that were generally eclectic and disorganized. In Antiquity, the rural structures were magnified — they were part of the same global, perfectly geometric architectonic concept. All glory to the master. In the villa's monumental design, we can recognize the Roman tendency for ostentation, theatrical staging, and the search for effect. The countryside was thus embellished because, for Rome, beauty lay in mathematical order. There, as elsewhere, straight lines took the place of curves and Celtic tracery.