An extremely well preserved Roman bath house belonging to someone ‘incredibly rich’ has been unearthed in the middle of a busy park. Crowds of people gathered to watch the large-scale excavation of Priory Park in Chichester. The dig, led by Chichester District Council in collaboration with the local archaeological society, has led to an exciting find ‘well exceeding archaeologists’ dreams’.
Archaeologists have known about three large Roman buildings buried under the popular park since ground-penetrating scans were carried out more than a year ago. An initial dig last summer confirmed the existence of a town house bigger than the Pallant House Gallery building and worth millions in today’s money.
This week-long excavation, to coincide with the city’s Roman Week, focused on an unusually shaped building which proved even more exciting than expected. James Kenny, Chichester District Council’s chief archaeologist, led the dig. He said:
“From the ground-penetrating scans we knew this was an interesting building because of its unusual oblong shape and interesting western end.
“We knew one of the possibilities was that it was a bath house but quite often with archaeology, when you get round to uncovering things they’re not as exciting as you anticipate it.
“But the results have far exceeded our imagination."
Adapted from an article in the Chichester Observer, 31 May 2017. Full article here
Above: 3D interactive model of the Priory Park trench, made from 200 individual photographs. Press the 'play' symbol, then when the model has loaded left mouse click and hold to rotate, right mouse click and hold to pan, mouse scroll wheel (or hold Ctrl + drag) to zoom. Click on the numbered annotations for more information.
Below: Video showing members of the team busy working in and around the trench and talking to the public on the last full day of digging.