fishbourne roman palace

Fascinating Fishbourne Roman Palace in West Sussex

Fishbourne Roman Palace is 25 miles from Steyning – a 40 minute drive.

It has a wonderful collection of Roman mosaics – some of the earliest and best preserved examples in the UK.

Fishbourne is the largest Roman residence north of the Alps. At about 500 feet (150 m) square, it has a larger footprint than Buckingham Palace.

Like several Roman sites, the palace was discovered by accident. In 1960 a farmer was digging a water main trench when he uncovered remains of Roman mosaics. Investigation during the next nine years, established Fishbourne Palace as one of the most extensive in the UK. It contained some of the finest mosaics in the country.

The first Roman presence at Fishbourne was a military fort – from just after the invasion in 43AD . By the end of the 1st century, there was a magnificent palace, containing some of the earliest mosaics in the UK.

The palace had about 100 rooms, most with mosaics. Some 20 of these earliest mosaics still survive. They rang in size from small fragments to almost entire chambers.

Many of the first mosaics were of simple black on white geometric designs. During the early 2nd century much more vivid and elaborately designed ones were created. Motifs used classical motifs such as a head of Medusa, flowers, knots, and urns in many colours.

fishbourne roman palace

One of the most famous of these shows Cupid on a Dolphin, bearing a trident. You can see this in the photograph above.

Find out more about the palace

Read about other things to see and do in Sussex

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