Ancient Monuments

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Roman amphitheatre

A Scheduled Monument in Chichester, West Sussex

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Coordinates

Latitude: 50.835 / 50°50'6"N

Longitude: -0.7708 / 0°46'14"W

OS Eastings: 486653.835051

OS Northings: 104663.145136

OS Grid: SU866046

Mapcode National: GBR DGS.HYJ

Mapcode Global: FRA 968W.PHR

Entry Name: Roman amphitheatre

Scheduled Date: 19 October 1978

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1002984

English Heritage Legacy ID: WS 462

County: West Sussex

Civil Parish: Chichester

Built-Up Area: Chichester

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Sussex

Church of England Parish: Whyke St George

Church of England Diocese: Chichester

Summary

Chichester Roman Amphitheatre, 141m south-west of Eastgate House.

Source: Historic England

Details

This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 30 October 2014. The record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.

The monument includes a Roman amphitheatre surviving as below-ground archaeological remains. It is situated on level ground outside the old city walls at Whyke on the east side of Chichester.

The amphitheatre is elliptical in plan and about 70m north to south by 60m east to west. It has a gravel floor 1.2m below ground-level and an inner wall faced with timber, which was plastered and painted. The gates and entrance passage linings are constructed of flint and mortar. Surrounding the inner wall was the cavea or seating area, which has been identified as an earthen bank surviving as a buried feature about 1.8m high. It is complete except for where it has been partially destroyed by a housing development on the south-west side.

The site was partially excavated between 1934 and 1935 but has since been back-filled. The amphitheatre is thought to have been erected between about AD 70 and AD 90. Evidence suggests that it may have been abandoned by the end of the 2nd century AD and robbed of building material, possibly for the construction of the town defences, shortly afterwards. An excavation undertaken nearby in 1996 revealed possible gravel pits used in its construction.
The site of the amphitheatre is now used as a recreation ground.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Amphitheatres were used throughout the Roman period for mass entertainment, public ceremonies and/or military training. They are elliptical structures, with a long axis of between approximately 50m and 115m, comprising banks of raised seating around a level space or arena. The ellipse of the seating banks or cavea is interrupted by one or more entrance passageways giving access to the arena from outside and vice-versa. Access to the seating was by way of steps leading off these passages or simply over the outer banks. There are two main types of amphitheatre distinguishable by general morphology: Type 1 has one or two entrances on the long axis and the cavea exterior is sloping; Type 2 has four or more entrance passages which oppose each other on both the long and the short axes and an outer revetment wall supporting the cavea. Both types were built on the periphery of the settlements which they served but type 1 is clearly associated with civilian activities and type 2 with military activities which presumably included training and drill. Archaeological evidence suggests that construction began in England at the time of the Roman Conquest and reached its peak in the latter half of that century. Final abandonment appears to occur on most sites by the latter half of the 4th century AD. They are very rare monuments with only twelve known examples.

Chichester Roman Amphitheatre has been shown by partial excavation to survive well. It is a rare monument, which served as a major centre of entertainment and a mark of Roman civilised life in the regional capital of Noviomagus Regnensium (Chichester). The monument will contain further archaeological and environmental information relating to its construction, use and the history of the site.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Other
West Sussex HER 4591-MWS6071. NMR SU80SE103. PastScape 924368.

Source: Historic England

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