Mosaic showing Cupid riding a dolphin

Contributed by Fishbourne Roman Palace

Mosaic showing Cupid riding a dolphin

Fishbourne Roman Palace houses the largest collection of in-situ mosaics in Britain, as well as some of the earliest. The palace site was excavated during the 1960s. On the last day of the first season a final trench was opened and revealed arguably the finest mosaic in the palace, now known as 'Cupid on a dolphin'. Following this tantalising glimpse the trench was re-filled to be protected over the winter and the archaeologists had to wait until the following summer to discover what the rest of the mosaic depicted. This mosaic is a truly remarkable survival since it rests higher in the ground than most of the palace remains, at a level which had suffered much damage from later ploughing. 'Cupid on a dolphin' has been dated using the fragments of shiny red pottery which were recycled as mosaic tiles. It replaced an older mosaic which was worn and had subsided into the soft soil beneath. Fishbourne Palace was built around 75-80 AD, possibly as a reward for the client king Togidubnus for his loyalty to Rome during the Boudiccan revolt. The palace was inhabited for around 200 years before it was destroyed in a devastating fire.

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  • 1 comment
  • 1. At 21:36 on 12 July 2010, SFME wrote:

    This is surely one of the most outstanding mosaics in Britain. One of the best things the 'Romans did for us!' How brilliant they found it on the last day of the first seasons excavations -

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Fishbourne, West Sussex


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