Fishbourne Roman Palace was discovered by accident during the digging of a water main trench in 1960. The discovery led to nine seasons of excavations 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.
This story is told in an entertaining audio-visual programme and also in the site museum, with the addition of fascinating artefacts from the excavations along with plans, reconstruction drawings and models. The remains of the North Wing of the Palace are enclosed within a cover building for their protection and for the comfort of the visitors. Here can be seen the largest collection of in-situ mosaics in Britain including the famous Cupid on a Dolphin mosaic.
Outside, the northern half of the formal garden has been replanted to its original plan as recovered by excavation. An attractive plant display area contains a range of plants known to have been cultivated by the Romans. Adjacent to it is a Roman Garden Museum which includes a reconstructed Roman potting shed with a selection of horticultural tools.
For anyone with a passing interest in Roman Britain this is a must see site. There is plenty of information available at Fishbourne which explains how and why it is there. What can I say about the building that has been excavated? Mosaics, mosaics and mosaics – truly wonderful. The size of the building will astound you; this is no three day ‘Timeteam’ excavation!