Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1002984
Date first listed: 19-Oct-1978
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
County: West Sussex
District: Chichester (District Authority)
National Grid Reference: SU 86654 04669
Chichester Roman Amphitheatre, 141m south-west of Eastgate House.
Reasons for Designation
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.
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.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: WS 462
Legacy System: RSM - OCN
West Sussex HER 4591-MWS6071. NMR SU80SE103. PastScape 924368.
This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing