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No. 6 JANUARY, 1968
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It is sometimes tempting to believe that archaeology is practically finished: that all the really big, spectacular discoveries have already been made, and that all that remains is to dot the i's and cross the t's. The excavation of the Roman Palace at Fishbourne, the subject of the major article in this issue, gives fresh hope. For Fishbourne is just about the largest Roman villa yet to be discovered in this country, but until excavations began the site was virtually unknown, and was not even marked on the Ordnance Survey 1 in. map !
The circumstances of the excavation are also noteworthy. For it is frequently said that the day of the private dig is over, and that henceforth only the state will be able to finance large excavations. This may well be so in the future: but Fishbourne was a private excavation, carried out by volunteers on behalf of the Sussex Archaeological Trust; and when the extent of the discoveries was realised, it was Mr. Ivan Margary, the expert on Roman roads, who purchased the land and then erected a cover building and museum over part of the site.
But in one way, Fishbourne is very typical. British archaeology tends to present a distinctly youthful appearance, especially where excavations are concerned. Although the excavator of Fishbourne is now the Professor of Archaeology at the University of Southampton, it is notable that when Professor Cunliffe began excavating at Fishbourne in 1961, he was still an undergraduate at Cambridge. . . .