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.
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. 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.
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 palisade 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.
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.
- 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.
- Chichester Castle – medieval castle established in the north of Noviomagus Reginorum
- Noviomagus of the Kentish, another city by the same name in Roman Britain
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