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Fishbourne

Fishbourne is a village near Chichester in West Sussex, the location of one of the most important archaeological sites in the United Kingdom. Although local people had known of the existence of Roman remains in the area, it was not until 1960 that the archaeologist Barry Cunliffe first systematically excavated the site, which had been accidentally uncovered by workmen.

The Roman villa excavated by Cunliffe's team was so large that it became known as Fishbourne Roman Palace, and a museum was erected to protect and preserve some of the remains in situ. This is administered by the Sussex Archaeological Society.

The palace consisted of four large wings, one of which is now on display under the roof of the museum building. Large gardens were also excavated, and were re-planted using authentic plants from the Roman period. There is still a prospect of finding further archaeology, and a team of volunteers and professional archaeologists is involved in a continuing research excavation on the site of military buildings that are believed to have stood close to the main building.

The most widely accepted theory is that the palace was the residence of Togidubnus[?], a local chieftain who became a client king, ie. a ruler tolerated by the Roman authorities and entrusted with the administration of his territory. All our knowledge of Togidubnus comes from a single inscription found close to the site. The building of the palace is believed to have begun shortly after the Roman invasion of 43AD, and was carried out in phases. The completed building included such facilities as mosaic floors, central heating[?] and an integral bathhouse. In size, it is approximately equivalent to Nero's Golden House in Rome or to the Roman villa at Piazza Armerina[?] in Sicily.



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