Fishbourne Roman Palace was excavated at various points during the mid to late 20th century, with the last phase of excavation between 1995 and 2002. It stands on the site of an invasion era military encampment or base, possibly service the harbour and activities at nearby Chichester. Shortly after this two timber buildings were erected which were soon replaced by masonry structures with decorative paintwork and a veranda. Development was rapid, and the masonry structure incorporated a bath housen and hypocaust as well as areas of craft such as metalworking. Notable finds from these periods include a legionary's helmet and large quantities of coins.
By 75-80AD work was begun on the huge palace which was constructed of ashlar, greensand, limestone, flints and concrete. The palace had four wings and included extensive private apartments, state rooms, audience rooms, stores, courtyards, formal gardens and baths. It covered an area of approximately 150 square metres and was relatively long-lived, seeing remodelling throughout the second and third centuries. Mosaics within the palace are impressive with original work in popular black and white geometric patterns and later mosaics laid over the top in colour. One of the most impressive and popular is of Cupid on a dolphin, and is remarkably well preserved.
The palace has undergone massive conservation and partial reconstruction, and the north wing is covered by a large modern structure which is open to visitors as a museum. The formal gardens to the front have also be reconstructed from their excavated layout.