CHICHESTER (Town) ENGLAND
Noviomagus Regnensium) (Chichester) Sussex, England.
The New Market of the Regnenses grew up in a territory defined by pre-Roman defensive dikes several miles N of the site of the earlier oppidum. The origins of the town are still somewhat obscure, but recent excavations have demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt that the site was first occupied as a military fort during the invasion period following the Roman landing of A.D. 43. Traces of timber buildings and a possible defensive ditch can be ascribed to this initial phase, together with a large number of military bronze fittings.
From ca. 45 to 75, after abandonment by the army, the site began to take on an urban appearance with more timber dwellings and the development of a pottery industry producing fine beakers imitating imported Gallo-Belgic types. Other buildings of a more monumental kind must have existed as well as benefactions, including an equestrian statue of Nero the inscribed base of which was found in the 18th c. During the 70s and 80s the somewhat haphazard arrangement of the town was apparently tidied up. Probably at this time the street grid was laid out and the forum and basilica built with a large (public?) bath close by. There was also a Temple to Neptune and Minerva, erected in honor of the Divine House by a guild of craftsmen with the permission of the local client king, Tiberius Claudius Cogidubnus. An inscription recording these facts was found in North Street in 1723 (where it is now exhibited), but the actual building has not been located. Other amenities of the late 1st or early 2d c. included an amphitheater and probably a public water supply canalized from the nearby Lavant river. A cremation cemetery grew up beside the main road leading NE towards London. Apart from the principal public buildings most of the structures of Noviomagus throughout the 2d and 3d c. were of timber construction, sometimes based on dry-stone footings.
Late in the 2d c. the nucleus of the town (ca. 40 ha) was enclosed within an earthen rampart with two V-shaped ditches outside. At this stage gates were probably of masonry, but little is known of them apart from a fragment of the N gate found recently. Early in the 3d c. the front of the earthen rampart was cut back and a masonry wall inserted. This wall, many times refaced, still stands for most of its original length. Later, probably immediately after the troubles of A.D. 367, forward-projecting bastions were added to the walls, necessitating refilling the inner ditch and recutting the outer one in a wide flat-bottomed shape. The new defensive measures were consistent with those taken elsewhere, and reflect the growing need felt by towns to defend themselves with permanently mounted artillery.
Within the walls the town continued to develop, with masonry houses and shops gradually replacing the old timber structures. Traces of buildings have been found in most parts of the town and a number of fragmentary mosaic floors have come to light, but building does not appear to have been as dense in Chichester as in other comparable British towns. It may be that Noviomagus experienced an economic setback during the 3d and 4th c. The fate of the town during the 5th c. is unknown, but it emerged as a center of some significance in the later Saxon period and has continued to be occupied since then.
Apart from its well-preserved walls and bastions, and the amphitheater, there is little to be seen of Roman Chichester. The City Museum now houses the archaeological collections.
B.W Cunliffe, ed.
This text is from: The Princeton encyclopedia of classical sites, Princeton University Press 1976. Cited Feb 2006 from Perseus Project URL below, which contains bibliography & interesting hyperlinks.
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