Better late than never. Because I write full-time—and always in the house—my sons summer school holidays has seriously messed with my usual work schedule. He’s a little distracting because he has a habit of not waiting till I finish typing before he speaks. It’s so hard to get work done around him that I’m now planning not to write at all during school holidays until he gets a bit older. So this weeks tour is really last weeks tour, posted way too many days late.
First stop: Fishbourne Roman Palace
~ Fishbourne, West Sussex (west of Chichester)
~ 33 miles—60 minutes from our last stop at Brighton.
Fishbourne Roman Palace was revealed by accident during the digging of a water main trench in 1960. The discovery led to nine years of excavation that showed the site had developed from a military base at the time of the Roman invasion in AD43 to a sumptuous Palace by the end of the first century. Between 1995 and 2002, new excavations by the Sussex Archaeological Society revealed exciting new insights into this development of this site, and especially the area in front of the Palace.
Fishbourne Roman Palace houses the largest collection of in-situ mosaic floors in Britain. Many of these were laid at the time of the construction of the Palace, around AD75-80, which makes them some of the oldest mosaics in England.
The original Palace had approximately one hundred rooms most of which had mosaic floors. Of these, just over a quarter survive to some degree, ranging from small, isolated patches to almost complete floors.
Mosaic survival has been far better in the remains of the north wing of the Palace. Here over twenty mosaics and fragments of mosaics can be seen, inside the modern, cover building. In addition, substantial fragments of five mosaics were discovered in the west wing of the palace during the 1960s excavations, but as there was no plan to erect a cover building to protect them, they were re-buried for their own protection. Three further fragments were discovered in the southern half of the west wing during excavations in 1987-88. As they were beyond the boundary of the Roman Palace site and potentially at risk, they were lifted, conserved and put on display in the north wing cover building.
Fishbourne Roman Palace is open almost all year round.
For specific opening hours go to the website.