Bignor, Fishbourne, Bosham and the Roman sites of Chichester
Villas were one of the major features of the Romano-British landscape and remain a constant source of fascination and debate. Questions remain about whether they were large landed estates specialising in agriculture or great houses and whether their owners were Romano-British or were absentees from abroad. More importantly, perhaps, the place of these establishments in the life of Roman Britain is still uncertain. This tour explores some of these complexities by visiting Fishbourne and Bignor, two very different examples of Romano-British villas. The great palace at Fishbourne was founded very early on and contains rich mosaics and decoration, before being abandoned after a fire in the 3rd century AD. Here we will look at the site and its mosaics, considering the competing theories put forward to explain this remarkable and elaborate complex, which would not be out of place in Italy. In contrast, Bignor Villa has a more typical development, beginning as a small farming establishment and growing into a great courtyard villa with elaborate mosaics by the 4th century AD, before being quietly abandoned sometime thereafter. We will however start the tour by visiting Roman Chichester, the tribal capital of the Regni. Here we will examine the remains of the town’s defences, the main internal road network, the public baths, the important Togidubnus inscription, and the amphitheatre.
Your Departure date
Deposit: £250 Single supplement: £225
Meet your Experts
Dr David Rudling
Andante Guide Lecturer
Dr David Rudling is the Academic Director of the Sussex School of Archaeology. He is also an Honorary Research Fellow and Visiting Lecturer at the University of Roehampton.
Day 1 - Emsworth
Our tour of Roman Sussex starts today when we gather in our hotel at Emsworth and meet our expert Guide Lecturer. He will give an introductory lecture before dinner.
Day 2 - Chichester
Today we spend the day exploring the historic city of Chichester, or Noviomagus Reginorum, whose Roman layout can be seen by its four main streets. We first view the well-preserved remnants of the Roman walls built in the 3rd century AD to protect the city from coastal raiders. We then proceed to the stunning 12th century Cathedral, where, in addition to a number of treasures, we see the remains of a Roman mosaic which once graced a town building. After lunch, we visit the Novium Museum, purpose built in order to display the remains of the Roman bath complex uncovered at the end of the 20th century and housing a recently refurbished Roman gallery which also includes a mosaic found during the excavation of a suburban villa at Chilgrove. We continue to the 15th century Central Market Cross, which stands at the intersection of the four principal - once Roman - streets of the city. From there we explore the remains of the amphitheatre, one of the main hallmarks of a Roman city. On our return journey to Emsworth we will make a stop at historic Bosham to view the village, harbour and church, the latter famously being depicted in the Bayeux Tapistry.
|Meals included||All meals included|
Day 3 - Fishbourne & Bignor
The morning takes us to Fishbourne where a Roman Villa the sumptuous palace built only 30 years after the Roman invasion, perhaps for King Togidubnus. Here we admire the scale of the palace, the largest Roman dwelling in Britain, as well as remarkable mosaics, including the very well-preserved dolphin mosaic made in the 2nd century AD when the palace was refurbished. We have special, behind the scenes access to the museum collections which allows us a privileged view of the archaeology of the site. After lunch, we visit Bignor Roman Villa, a courtyard residence which is on a much smaller scale than Fishbourne and, built in the 3rd century AD, continued after the demise of Fishbourne. Unlike Fishbourne, it is clearly a villa rustica, built not only as an elite residence but as a farm. Here we see some of the best preserved mosaics in Britain, including a well preserved mosaic of the Rape of Ganymede as well as an intricate large mosaic of Medusa. From Bignor, we return to Emsworth and begin our independent journeys home.
|Meals included||Breakfast, Lunch|
Tour dates & prices
Included in your cost:
- Expert Guide Lecturer
- Professional Tour Manager
- Local travel aboard a private air-conditioned coach
- Meals as per the itinerary, wine and tea or coffee with dinner
- Entries to all sites as per the itinerary
- Field notes
- All taxes & gratuities
|Tour Departure||Tour ID||Departure date||Return Date||Guided by||Price||Deposit||Single supplement||Offer||Availability|
|28 June 2023||ASRS230628||28 June 2023 (Wednesday)||30 June 2023 (Friday)||Dr David Rudling||£845
|£250||£225||Book your trip|
|28 June 2024||ASRS240628||28 June 2024 (Friday)||30 June 2024 (Sunday)||Dr David Rudling||£865
|Book your trip|
|20 September 2024||ASRS240920||20 September 2024 (Friday)||22 September 2024 (Sunday)||Dr David Rudling||£865
|Book your trip|