Fishbourne Roman Palace - History and Facts | History Hit

Fishbourne Roman Palace

Chichester, England, United Kingdom

Fishbourne Roman Palace hosts the remains of a huge Roman palace built in the 1st century. Today it operates as a museum and contains a host of information, artefacts and mosaics from the site's history.

Lily Johnson

22 Apr 2021
Image Credit: Wikimedia / CC

About Fishbourne Roman Palace

Fishbourne Roman Palace in West Sussex hosts the remains of a huge Roman palace complex constructed in the 1st century. As the largest Roman residential site in Britain, it provides a fascinating insight into Roman Britain and contains a large collection of stunning mosaic work.

Fishbourne Roman Palace history

Built in 75 AD on the site of a Roman supply compound, Fishbourne Roman Palace was a vast and impressive development that appeared just 30 years after the Roman conquest of Britain. It would have been built for the very highest echelons of Romano-British society, and is the largest Roman residential complex to be discovered in Britain – it is even bigger than Buckingham Palace!

Over the next 200 years Fishbourne Roman Palace was further renovated, including the addition of an array of intricate mosaics featured in over 100 rooms, many of which may still be seen today. Many theories surround who may have owned the palace, with suggestions including Tiberius Claudius Togidubnus, a pro-Roman chieftan of the Regni tribe mentioned in Tacitus’ Agricola.

Evidence suggests that in the late 3rd century Fishbourne was destroyed by a fire, leaving only the palace walls standing. Left beyond repair, it appears the site was never re-built beyond that date, with its remains lying lost and forgotten until their discovery in the 1960s.

Fishbourne Roman Palace today

Today, Fishbourne Roman Palace is run by the charity Sussex Past and is open to tourists and educational groups. Visitors can view audio-visual displays, artefacts, and reconstructions of the site as well as viewing the remains of the North Wing, which are protected under a covered enclosure.

There are many extremely well-preserved mosaics in Fishbourne Roman Palace, including the famous ‘Cupid on a Dolphin mosaic’ and a Medusa mosaic, similar to those found at Brading Roman Villa and Bignor Roman Villa.

The site also contains a reconstructed Roman garden, designed and planted according to archaeological and historical evidence, as well as a museum examining Roman horticultural techniques.

Getting to Fishbourne Roman Palace

Fishbourne Roman Palace is located in the village of Fishbourne in West Sussex, and can be reached by taking the A259 off the Fishbourne Roundabout on the A27, and following the brown tourist signs to the site. Fishbourne train station is a 7-minute walk to the site, while the 56, 700, and 770 bus services stop at Salthill Road, an 8-minute walk away.

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