Sunday, 4 December 2011

A Palace at Fishbourne

A couple of weeks late but no matter. On our semi regular visits to Chichester take us past the Roman site at Fishbourne but somehow we've never stopped.  Time to change that!

We were there bright and early on a Sunday morning ( no school parties!!) so apart from a couple of other visitors we had the site pretty much to ourselves.

The palace was discovered by chance in  1960 during the digging of a new water main.  One of the finest Roman sites in Britain. There have been a number of phases of development here and some very early mosaic floor. Most of what is currently visible dates from approximately 75CE although it was continually updated and improved.

Surviving plaster gives a tantalising clue to the quality of the decoration and the mosaic floors are some of the best in Britain. Unfortunately the palace was badly damaged by fire in the third century and never really rebuilt, much of the stone being robbed out for reuse.

One of the earliest mosaics - monochrome but an amazing 3D effect nonetheless.

The famous Cupid and Dolphin mosaic. Hidden in the scroll border is a small black bird which has been suggested as representing the "signature" of the maker.

Although there is little evidence of the Palace remaining in use after the fire, there are some later Saxon burials on the site - this one was cut through one of the mosaics.

The palace was surrounded by formal gardens which have been partially recreated to give a feel of how the site looked. Some plants known to have been the contemporary gardens ( from pollen analysis) have been reintroduced. Obviously this is not the best time of year for garden shots!

and finally - some of the finds that didn't make it on to display. The sheer size of this store is incredible and I certainly hope they get a big discount from the maker of Really Useful Boxes!!
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