Roman palace plants tree as tribute to site’s first curator

Margaret cleaning a mosaic
Margaret cleaning a mosaic

A memorial tree has been planted in honour of an archaeologist who was the first curator of Fishbourne Roman Palace.

The tree, planted at Fishbourne Roman Palace, honours Margaret Rule, who was involved with the early excavations of the site, 57 years ago.

A Walnut tree was donated by the Friends of Fishbourne Roman Palace, and is now displayed in the palace’s plants garden with a plaque commemorating Margaret’s time at Fishbourne from 1960 to 1979.

A ceremony was held for the palace staff, friends and trustees of the Sussex Archaeological Society and the ribbon was cut by the friends’ secretary.

Margaret died in April 2015 and staff at the palace wanted to celebrate all that she contributed during those early years.

Katrina Burton, property manager, said: “Here at Fishbourne, we wanted to commemorate Margaret’s contribution to the site.

“She was instrumental in those early days of discovery of the site to its later development and what we know today.

“We are very grateful to the Friends’ of Fishbourne Roman Palace in making this acknowledgment possible”.

Margaret first became interested with Fishbourne in 1960, when a water pipe trench being dug on the eastern side of the village revealed something of archaeological interest.

Her involvement with the excavations of the site continued annually until 1968 when Margaret became the palace’s first curator.

A quarter of a million visitors passed through the doors when the site opened in the summer of 1968, including prestigious individuals such as Prince Charles, the King of Sweden and the King and Queen of Greece.

Margaret remained Curator until 1979 when she left to become involved in the excavation and recovery of the Mary Rose.

Join Sussex Past or the Friends of Fishbourne Roman Palace to receive free admission to the site and all special events. For more information, see website for details. The palace is accessible with ramps. Assistance dogs welcome.

Fishbourne Roman Palace dates back to the beginning of Roman occupation in Britain and offers visitors of all ages a unique chance to look back in time. The north wing of this remarkable building remains an important visitor attraction and archaeological site for anyone interested in Roman art and architecture.