Villa development in North-Western Europe: new perspectives

Specialists from various disciplines, from the Netherlands and abroad, exchange knowledge about their most current research into Roman villas in Northwest Europe. The reason for this is the completion of the research project A Roman idyll of the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden, the Limburg Museum, the Thermenmuseum and the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands (2020-2024), which aimed at the analysis of ancient excavations of Roman villas in Limburg. The results of this villa project will be presented and evaluated during the congress, followed by space for discussion on the perspectives for future research in the field of Roman villas.

  • date: Monday 27 May 2024
  • time: 9:30 – 18:00
  • location: Rijksmuseum van Oudheden/National Museum of Antiquities (address and route)
  • price: € 40 (students € 25)
  • registration: buy tickets online
  • language of instruction: English

Research and excavations

The research on Roman villas in Limburg began in the 19th century. The Rijksmuseum van Oudheden was actively involved, often in collaboration with local researchers. By 1955 around twenty villas had been excavated, with many finds being brought to Leiden. The others remained in Limburg, including at the Province of Limburg, the Limburgs Museum in Venlo and the Thermenmuseum in Heerlen.

A Roman idyll

For the research and public project A Roman idyll, the three museums and the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands joined forces. A detailed analysis was made of the thousands of Limburg villa finds and old excavation documents preserved in the archives and depots. Aerial photos and recent excavation data were also used to gather additional information. The project is now in its final phase. The first results can be seen from 25 April 2024 in the exhibition Roman villas in Limburg in the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden, which will also travel to the two museums in Limburg. All of the results will be published in the National Museum of Antiquities’ PALMA scientific series in 2024.


  • 09:30-10:00 Registration and welcome with coffee
  • 10:00-10:05 W. Weijland/L. Petit Welcome in the museum
  • 10:05-10:15 prof. dr. N.G.A.M. Roymans Welcome, general remarks, a reflection on previous research on Villa Landscapes in the Roman North
  • 10:15-10:30 Jasper de Bruin A Roman Idyll?
  • 10:30-11:15 Keynote speaker prof. dr. M. Reddé The state of research on Roman villas in France. Problems and perspectives
  • 11:15-11:45 Sadi Maréchal Roman villas in modern-day Belgium (civitas Menapiorum, Nerviorum and Tungrorum). A socio-cultural approach
  • 11:45-12:15 Tünde Kaszab-Olschewski Villae rusticae in the Rhineland
  • 12:15-13:30 Lunch and visiting the exhibition Roman villas in Limburg
  • 13.30-14:00 Karen Jeneson The Roman villa landscape of South Limburg
  • 14:00-14:30 Henk Hiddink New research on old excavations of villae in Limburg
  • 14:30-15:00 Diederick Habermehl Settling in a changing world. Villa biographies in the Roman north
  • 15:00-15:30 Break
  • 15:30-16:00 Jamie Dodd Exploring the end of the villa in North-western Europe: Current directions and approaches
  • 16:00-16:30 Jos Bazelmans and Tessa de Groot (Un)protected opulence. National heritage management and Roman villas in Limburg
  • 16:30-17:00 Discussion and recap
  • 17:00-18:00 Drinks

The Roman idyll project is funded by the Mondriaan Fonds, through the multi-year Museums and heritage institutions programme.

Romeinse villa's in Limburg | grafinventaris sarcofaag van Simpelveld

Objects found in the sarcophagus of Simpelveld

Romeinse villa's in Limburg Voerendaal

This is what a Roman villa might have looked like | Reconstruction: Mikko Kriek