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Sussex_west Map

In 1960 a workman was digging a trench for a water main across fields to the north of Fishbourne, when he cut through a mass of ancient looking rubble.

This was reported to the local archeological committee, and excavations began. Eight seasons later in 1968, it became clear that the remains of a very large Roman palace, the largest north of the Alps, and larger than Buckingham Place is today.

What they uncovered is just the northern wing of a much larger building arranged around the four sides of a roughly square courtyard. The rest of the building is buried under the houses and main road of Fishbourne village.

The northern half of the courtyard has been recreated using plants from the Roman period, and part of the southern wing has been outlined in the grass.

For opening times, admission prices, etc. please see the official site detailed below.

The earliest parts of the palace date back to the 1st century AD, around thirty years after the Roman conquest of Britain. It was extensive altered in the subsequent centuries, until in around 270 it burnt down and was abandoned.

The many mosaics on display reflect these changes, from the simple geometric black and white mosaics of the early period to the much more sophisticated coloured work of later periods. This culminated in the almost perfectly preserved Cupid on a Dolphin Mosaic mosaic in what must have been one of the principal rooms.