Bignor Roman Villa is a large Roman courtyard villa well-known for its high quality mosaic floors, which are some of the most complete and intricate in the country. The villa is on the south-facing slope of a ridge of greensand which provided better conditions for agriculture than the nearby chalk; this fact and its proximity to Roman Chichester meant that the owners were able to become wealthy from farming.
The existence of a Romano-British farmstead on the site by the end of the 1st century is indicated by finds, but the earliest structural remains are of a simple timber farm structure dating to around 200. A four-roomed stone building was built in the middle of the 3rd century, and this was extended before 400 by the addition of a few new rooms, a hypocaust, and a portico that faced east. This building became the western wing when north and south wings and later an east wing were added. In its final form, the villa consisted of some sixty-five rooms surrounding a courtyard, with a number of outlying farm buildings. The latest phase of building involved additions to the north wing, and it is here that most of the fine mosaics are located. The later history of the villa is not well known, but it appears to have gradually declined in status, rather than suffering a catastrophic fate.
The rooms on display today are mostly located at the west end of the north wing, including a summer and winter (underfloor heated) dining room. The bathhouse is to the south-east. The rooms contain some of the best Roman mosaics to be found in Great Britain, both in terms of preservation, artistic merit and detailing. The Greek-key-patterned northern corridor extends for some 79 ft (24m).1