Today was a long day on the road as we departed Portsmouth and headed east along the coast of England towards our first stop, the Fishbourne Roman Palace. Getting there was interesting in that we had to travel through a number of suburban-like neighborhoods before we finally arrived but it was definitely worth the drive. Although several structures existed on the same going back to the Roman invasion of Britain in 43 AD, the Roman Palace itself was originally built sometime around 75 to 80 AD and as such, is the largest known Roman structure in Britain. As to the occupants, there are several theories that the palace was occupied by various Briton client kings or the Roman Governor of Britain himself. But whatever the case may be, we were impressed by the scale of the palace which is reflected in the magnificent tile mosaic floor decorations that have been excavated in nearly intact condition and are now preserved in an indoor museum structure that’s been built around them.
First, just to get an idea of what the original palace might have looked like in its heyday, here’s a model:
A series of walkways make the almost the entire footprint of the palace accessible to visitors.
Above is one of the mosaic tile floors with an elaborate design of Cupid on a dolphin. Here’s a better picture, courtesy of Wikipedia:
In viewing the mosaics, you’ll note that they are not flat. That’s due to settling in the ground that has occurred over the years that the site remained buried. Here’s some more interior views:
But a trip to the Roman Palace at Fishbourne wouldn’t be complete without view the exterior grounds. On the site, they have recreated a Roman herb garden, much in the same place that it was located back in the 1st Century AD:
And here are some pictures of the restored Roman gardens:
Here you can see part of the Roman garden as well as the museum structure that protects the mosaic floors. It was winter so the plants weren’t really much to see but come back in May and that will be a different matter… 🙂
Here’s a better view of the gardens when the plants are a bit more active:
Visiting in February, we obviously didn’t get the full visual experience of the gardens but nevertheless, the site was well laid out and there was a lot to see. Our brief description doesn’t do justice to the sheer magnificence of the place and we highly recommend it.