Where the Romans once walked

The section of Roman mosaic discovered by workmen under Chichester Cathedral.
The section of Roman mosaic discovered by workmen under Chichester Cathedral.
Landport Gate, from Garth Groombridges book Portsmouth In 50 Buildings, published by Amberley at �14.99 					All pictures: Garth Groombridge

Stories behind Portsmouth’s historic gates

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As we know, a massive Roman villa was discovered at Fishbourne, just outside Chichester, in the early 1960s.

As Chichester was perhaps one of the most important Roman towns in the south of England, I would assume that if every building, including the cathedral, was demolished and archeologists then removed the top 20ft or so of earth, then evidence of Rome might be found under the entire city.

In 1969 workers restoring an area south of the cathedral’s Lady Chapel discovered part of a Roman mosaic.

It was an indication that a large building once stood on the exact spot where the cathedral was built and is the only medieval English cathedral visible from the sea.

The trench the workmen dug was only three feet square and there were no plans to extend it.

The mosaic had a red geometric key design on a plain grey background and could have been part of a corridor floor.

Another section of the mosaic uncovered within the cathedral was left uncovered as a feature of the building. The portion in the trench was shrouded with a protective sheet and covered in concrete.

It was to form the basis of the cathedral’s new drainage system.