Villas & Palaces of Roman Sussex
Bignor, Fishbourne 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 latifundia or great houses and whether their owners were Roman British or whether they were absentees. 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 in Sussex, 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, going out with a whimper rather than a bang.
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Day 1 - Chichester
Our tour of Roman villas in Sussex starts today when we gather in our hotel in Chichester and meet our expert Guide Lecturer.
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 and by the remains of its ancient forum. Today we view the well-preserved remnants of the Roman walls built in the 3rd century AD to protect the city from coastal raiders. We 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 public building. After lunch, we visit the Novium Museum, purpose built in order to display the remains of the Roman bath complex uncovered in the end of the 20th century and housing a recently refurbished Roman gallery which also includes the Chilgrove mosaic found in the excavation of a suburban late antique villa at Chilgrove. We continue to the 15th century Central Market Cross, which stands in the intersection of the four principal - once Roman - streets of the city. From there we explore the remnants of the amphitheatre, one of the main hallmarks of a Roman city, before ending the day at the Roman cemeteries built outside the city walls.
|Meals included||All meals included|
Day 3 - Fishbourne & Bignor
The morning takes us to Fishbourne Roman Villa, the sumptuous palace built only 30 years after the Roman invasion, perhaps for Togidubnis. Here we admire the scale of the villa, the largest Roman dwelling in Britain, as well as remarkable mosaics, including the very well-preserved dolphin mosaic built in the 2nd century AD when the palace was refurbished. We have special, behind the scenes access to the villa which allows us a privileged view of the archaeology of the site. After lunch, we visit Bignor Roman Villa, a Roman courtyard residence which is on a much smaller scale than Fishbourne and, built in the 3rd century AD, is much later in date. 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 a large mosaic of Medusa. From Bignor, we return to Chichester and return home.
|Meals included||Breakfast, Lunch|
Tour dates & prices
Included in your cost:
- Expert Guide Lecturer
- 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
- All taxes & gratuities
|Tour Departure||Tour ID||Departure date||Return Date||Guided by||Price||Deposit||Single Supp.||Offer||Availability|
|18 June 2021||ASRS210618||18 June 2021 (Friday)||20 June 2021 (Sunday)||Oliver Gilkes Dr David Rudling||£575
|20 August 2021||ASRS210820||20 August 2021 (Friday)||22 August 2021 (Sunday)||Oliver Gilkes Dr David Rudling||£575