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The Mosaic floors at Fishbourne

The Mosaic floors at Fishbourne have been damaged in a variety of ways.

In this essay I am going to describe and explain how several of the floors have been damaged before explaining how the damage might have been caused. In addition, I will then explain what this damage can tell us about the changing function of the site.

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I will now organise the damaged floors into different categorises of 4 types, and those 4 types are:-

Natural-natural damage such as weather erosion.

Structural- structural damage such as post holes or ditches or drain marks.

Accidental-accidental damage such as JCB marks, or plough marks.

Vandalism-vandalism damage made on purpose such as rubbish site.

I will now describe and explain each of the 4 different types of floor damage.

I will start off with Natural damage. There are 2 clearly visible effects of natural damage at Fishbourne, the first is Subsidence, subsidence is the motion of a surface as it shifts downward relative to a datum such as sea-level, there are clear and visible marks of subsidence at Fishbourne as one of the floors is decomposed and has signs of floor sinking, and tiles crumbled down also sinking, this tells us that the place could have been used as a rubbish tip site before because there are clear dips around that particular floor so people could of just thrown rubbish into it and then buried it, then built over with mosaic and now dug up again, subsidence also occurs in brittle areas of the Earth’s crust and by ductile flow in the hotter and more fluid mantle of the Earth caused by the footwall of normal faults.

And the second natural damage is Fire, one of the floors at Fishbourne shows heavy erosion by weathering, this is because during Roman rule, a fire was reported and burned most of the place, when the fire ended, it burned and completely destroyed the roof in that particular area, so there was then no roof and the mosaic floor was then exposed to the harsh English weather which slowly eroded it and eventually was then covered over by Earth and then eventually dug up, the fire did not actually cause any damage, but it burned down the roof so it collapsed onto the floor creating the first part of the damage, and then the weather erodes the floor and creates the second part of the damage.

I will now explore Structural damage, there are 2 clear visible effects of structural damage, and the first is Granary Posts, one floor at Fishbourne has clear post holes left in it, they are equal length apart from each other and are opposite to each other.

This shows that if there were Granary Posts, there was a Granary store used to store goods such as food, weapons, jewellery, and other valuables, when the Granary store was taken down, posts were left there and the wood oxidized and rotted. This tells us that the people that put up the Granary store and took it down were probably in a rush and wanted to do it quickly, and the Granary store could of be used for military purposes, also the wooden posts were left there after granary store was taken down, this tells us that maybe the Romans did not really know about objects like wood rotting, and they could have been in a hurry to take down the granary store as posts were left in there this could show they did not have time to take out the posts.

The second Structural damage is a Drainage Ditch, a floor at Fishbourne has damage which can suggest that a Drainage Ditch could have been placed there earlier on because there is a massive dip in the shape of a ditch on one of the mosaics, in the Medieval period this drainage ditch could have been used for growing various crop, and might have been used

as a burial ground or even a rubbish tip again, there is evidence of it being a burial ground because a skeleton was found under that mosaic.

I will now look at the Accidental damage, there are 2 cases of accidental damage at Fishbourne, the first is a JCB channel concrete mark, one of the mosaics at Fishborne has been damaged by a channel of concrete that runs through the mosaic floor, it is clearly visible and was caused when the site was first discovered, the concrete was used to fill in the ditch that had been dug by a mechanical digger in order to lay water pipes in the 1960s, this tells us that the Fishbourne site had been completely overgrown, no-one knew of the site’s existence until the 1960s, by then 3 quarters of the site had already been destroyed by this time.

And the second damage is Medieval ploughing, one of the floors at Fishbourne has deep parallel line plough marks in the floor probably caused by a Medieval plough, this tells us that the place could possibly of been used to grow various crops on farm land in medieval times.

I will now finish off the different types of damage by exploring the last type of damage which is vandalism, at Fishbourne there is 1 case of vandalism damage, near one of the mosaics there is a burial site with a number of graves and skeleton bones found in them, but some of the mosaic floor patterns are still visible under the skeleton, dug through the tiles, there could of probably been robbers trying to get to the bodies and could of smashed through the grave looking for valuables, this tells us that the site could have been used as a burial ground, and maybe in a hurry to burry someone.

To conclude this essay, from the evidence that is available to me at the site and through other sources such as photographs and extracts I can successfully prove how the floors were damaged at Fishbourne and explain about the different types of floor damage as I have already done this earlier on in this essay in the main body of evidence.