Noviomagus Reginorum

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Coordinates: 50°50′13″N 0°46′48″W / 50.837°N 0.780°W / 50.837; -0.780

Chichester City Walls. The Roman walls were heavily modified in the Middle Ages, and the facing stones are the result of 19th century restoration.
Not to be confused with Noviomagus Cantiacorum in Roman Britain or other cities named Noviomagus elsewhere.

Noviomagus Reginorum was the Roman town which is today called Chichester, situated in the modern English county of West Sussex.

Name[edit]

Noviomagus is a Latinization of a Brittonic placename meaning "new fields". It was given its epithet—variously Reginorum, Regnorum, Regnentium, & Regentium—in order to distinguish it from other places with the same name, including the Noviomagus in Kent. All of the names derive from the local Regini, a group among the Atrebates.[1]

History[edit]

The settlement was first established as a winter fort for the Second Augustan Legion under Vespasian (the future emperor) shortly after the Roman invasion in AD 43.[2] Their timber barrack blocks, supply stores, and military equipment have been excavated. The camp was located in the territory of the friendly Atrebates tribe and was only used for a few years before the army withdrew and the site was developed as a Romano-British civilian settlement. It served as the capital of the Civitas Reginorum, a client kingdom ruled by T. Claudius Togidubnus. The Regnenses were either a sub-tribe of the Atrebates or simply the local people designated the 'people of the Kingdom' by the Roman administration. Togidubnus almost certainly lived at the nearby Palace of Fishbourne. He is mentioned on the dedication stone of the temple to Neptune and Minerva found in Chichester. Other public buildings were also present: the public baths are beneath West Street, the amphitheatre under the cattle market and the basilica is thought to be beneath the cathedral.

Inscription discovered at Chichester in 1723. From a temple dedicated to Neptune and Minerva, erected on the authority of Tiberius Claudius Togidubnus.

The town became an important residential, market and industrial centre, producing both fine tableware and enamelwork. In the 2nd century the town was surrounded by a bank and timber pallisade which was later rebuilt in stone. Bastions were added in the early 4th century and the town was generally improved with much rebuilding, road surfacing and a new sewerage system. There were cemeteries outside the east, north and south gates.[3]

Decline[edit]

By the 380s, Noviomagus appears to have been largely abandoned, perhaps because of Saxon raids along the south coast. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle the town was eventually captured towards the close of the 5th century by Aelle of the South Saxons. It was renamed after his son, Cissa, and probably retained as a royal residence.

Remains[edit]

  • The dedication stone of the temple of Neptune and Minerva is now set into the wall of the Assembly Rooms.
  • Part of a fine Roman mosaic may be seen in situ beneath the floor of the cathedral.
  • A second mosaic from Noviomagus may be seen at Fishbourne Roman Palace.
  • One of the town's bastions may be seen in the gardens of the Bishop's Palace.
  • Chichester's museum The Novium houses many finds from across the city.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Wacher, John The Towns of Roman Britain Routledge; 2nd Revised edition (5 April 1995) ISBN 978-0-7134-7319-3 p.262
  2. ^ A History of Britain, Richard Dargie (2007), p. 20
  3. ^ Alec Down: Roman Chichester, Chichester 1988, ISBN 0850334357. pp. 49-67

External links[edit]