Name for new Chichester museum is revealed

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Excitement is building as work on the new Chichester District Museum in Tower Street gathers pace.

And this week, Chichester District Council announced its new name will be The Novium, which comes from the Roman name of Chichester, Noviomagus Reginorum which means ‘the new market town of the people of the kingdom’.

Work is currently taking place to uncover the Roman bath remains, which have been hidden from view since they were checked in the early 1990s following their excavation in 1978.

District arts and heritage development manager Anne Bone said the bath remains, made up of stacks of clay tiles called pilae which formed an underfloor heating system, were being carefully uncovered.

Each stack has been protected in its own specially-built wooden box, and then the spaces back-filled with a special material, which contractors from a commercial archaeology have been digging out.

The work was first carried out using machinery, and now a small team is doing the more delicate work to prepare the pilae for their new home, where visitors will be able to see them from a viewing platform above.

The set-up will be similar to that at Fishbourne Roman Palace and there will an audio visual element and interpretation panels.

Mrs Bone said everyone was very excited about the project, which has been 20 years in the pipeline. She said one of the landmark moments was when the walls went up.

“We’d spent so long looking at drawings and you started to see the area for the Roman baths and it made it come alive.”

“We’ve had a really positive response and a lot of people feel the district really deserves a new museum and that it is a good thing for the council to be doing. It’s very exciting – you can look down the hall now and see everything, it will be a great museum.”

She said work was currently taking place to devise the first series exhibition material. An important aspect was linking the baths to the the wider district including the rural north and coastal areas.

To keep up-to-date with the museum’s progress, follow Chichester District Council on Facebook, or Twitter by following ChichesterDC, or visit www.chichester.gov.uk.