John Manley, Chief Executive of the Sussex Archaeological Society,
Fishbourne before the Conquest royal capital of aclient-kingdom? "When did Britain become Roman? The answer has always seemed obvious: after the Claudian invasion ofAD 43. But some archaeologists now think this is too simple. The evidence is growing for Romanised 'client-kingdomsI in the half century or so before the legions arrived. The key site is Fishbourne near Chichester on the south coast, one of Britain's most famous archaeological sites ever since Barry Cunliffe excavated a spectacular late-first-century palace there in the 1960s. But what happened and David Rudkin, Director, Fishbourne Roman Palace before the palace was built? Cunliffe found earlier remains, but he thought they all post-dated the invasion. Now, after years of further excavation, John Manley and David Rudkin are edging towards a radical new interpretation. We invited them to put their case.
A model of the latefirst-century Palace at Fishbourne. The view is from the east. Note the earlier bath-house and 'proto-palace' incorporated into the later Palace (bottom left-hand corner), and the stream running in a new channel in front of the Palace. Butjust how much earlier is the bath-house? Could it have been built before AD43?