Fishbourne Roman Palace

Guided Tour of Fishbourne Roman Palace
9th June 2009

Sixteen members and partners enjoyed a very interesting outing to Fishbourne Roman Palace near Chichester.

First, we went to the Discovery Collection Centre, which houses their reserve collection together with numerous archaeological items from the Chichester area. Our guide was staff Archaeologist, Dr Rob Symmons, who described and passed round several items which members found most interesting.

After this, one of the volunteer curators described the whole site at the scale model, which covers a greater area than can ever be excavated because it has now been built on, not least by the A27 main road. He started by outlining the known and assumed history of the Palace and pointed out that the site was effectively discovered by accident when drains were being dug for a housing development which would have covered virtually the whole presently excavated site. An interesting anecdote he related was that, some years ago, before the significance of the site was even suspected, a child living in one of the houses fronting the A27 when digging in the garden, discovered Roman remains but his parents insisted that they be covered up because they did not want to have Archaeologists digging their garden. House gardens have now been excavated a little including one, which came up for sale. The Trust bought the house, excavated the area and then sold it on.

Following the talk, we were free to wander the site and view the indoor exhibits. The garden has been restored to the style and planting that it is thought would have existed in Roman times.

It was felt that the number taking part was below our normal attendance but we had visited the Palace some 12 years ago. One member who was there then, commented that the present visit was so much better because we had been able to arrange for Guides and hear a detailed description of the place whereas previously members were on their own to wander the site.