Fishbourne Roman Palace is a large palace was built in the 1st century AD, around 30 years after the Roman conquest of Britain. It was discovered by accident during the digging of a water main trench in 1960 and this led to nine seasons of excavations that showed the site had developed from a military army supply base established at the Claudian invasion in 43 AD, to a sumptuous Palace by the end of the 1st century. Further excavation were carried out by the Sussex Archaeological Society between 1995 and 2002.
The rectangular palace (shown in the model below) was surrounded formal gardens. The northern half has been replanted to its original plan (including a Roman Garden Museum which includes a reconstructed Roman potting shed with a selection of horticultural tools) as recovered by excavation.
There were extensive alterations in the 2nd and 3rd centuries, with many of the original black and white mosaics being overlaid with more sophisticated coloured work, including the perfectly preserved dolphin mosaic (below left) in the north wing. More alterations were in progress when the palace burnt down in around 270, after which it was abandoned.
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