Bignor Roman Villa | Attraction Guides | History Hit

Bignor Roman Villa

Chichester, England, United Kingdom

Tristan Hughes

24 Nov 2020
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Bignor Roman Villa

Bignor Roman Villa is a large Roman villa site on the Bignor estate. Situated in West Sussex, the Villa complex hosts the remains of a 3rd century ancient Roman home, and some of the best-preserved Roman mosaics in the country.

Bignor Roman Villa history

Finds from the site of Bignor Roman Villa hint to an initial homestead dating from the end of the 1st century, while structural evidence points with more certainty to the existence of a timber farm around 190 AD.

A later stone structure was built during the 3rd century, with the extension of new rooms, a hypocaust and a portico soon following. Its final additions took place in the 4th century, when work was undertaken on the north wing that included the stunning mosaics later discovered at the site. In its final form, Bignor Roman Villa consisted of 65 rooms surrounding a courtyard, alongside a number of farm buildings in the vicinity.

No records exist from the Roman period about who lived at the Villa, however it must have been a family of considerable wealth and likely, according to experts, of Romano-British descent.

Though once a lavish home, Bignor was eventually abandoned after over 2 centuries of habitation – probably after the Roman withdrawal from Britain. It was rediscovered in the early 19th century and is enclosed by Georgian buildings, which are themselves worthy of note and have recently been restored.

Bignor Roman Villa today

Today, Bignor Roman Villa contains some of the best preserved Roman mosaics in Britain, as well as the remains of the Villa complex which include several living rooms, a bathhouse and even the underfloor heating systems employed by Roman engineers.

The Villa has been owned by the Tupper family since 1811, when George Tupper accidentally stumbled upon Roman remains while he was ploughing. The site’s various rooms and mosaics have been beautifully preserved, alongside an in-house museum where visitors can view more of the artefacts that have been uncovered at the site.

Getting to Bignor Roman Villa

Situated right in the heart of the South Downs, the best and most feasible way to reach Bignor Roman Villa is by car. Signs to Bignor Roman Villa can be seen just before Bury Hill on the A29 in the east and just before Duncton Hill on the A285 further west. Small, winding roads will lead you to the Villa itself, a countryside journey that is complete with picturesque views of the surrounding Sussex countryside. Parking is also available at the site.

If travelling via public transport, the nearest train station is 3.3 miles south of Bignor village at Amberley, while the 99 bus route stops right outside at the main Villa entrance, but must be pre-booked.

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