Novus Portus (Brighton)?

Probable Port

Novus Portus – ‘The New Port’ – The only classical evidence for a Roman port and settlement on the south coast near Brighton is an entry in Ptolemy’s Geography of the second century AD. After the entries for Chichester and the mouth of the River Arun in Sussex, and before the South Foreland in Kent there appears the entry Novus Portus, which, from its given position would appear to be somewhere in the region of Brighton and Hove, perhaps near the mouth of the River Adur near Portslade-by-Sea.

Description of the south side below which is the Oceanus BritannicusMagnus Portus 19*00 53? ¹ ost. Trisantonis Fl. 20*20 53? ² Novus Portus 21*00 53? Cantium Prom. 22*00 54? ³ …

  1. Identified as Chichester, Sussex; know as Noviomagus.
  2. Very likely the River Arun in Sussex.
  3. Undoubtedly the South Foreland of Kent.

The Roman road from London continues beyond Hassocks towards the south coast at Brighton, where numerous Roman finds have been made. There is a fairly high probability of there being a Roman settlement either hidden under the streets of the modern town, or else built further to the south, and now forever lost to the eroding effects of the Oceanus Britannicus.

Other Roman Sites in the Area

The remains of three Roman villas are known in the immediate locale; at Southwick (TQ2405), West Blatchington (TQ2707) and Preston (TQ3005). A Roman milestone found further west along the coast at Worthing (TQ1302) probably points to there being a coastal road-link to Noviomagus (Chichester), which also served the villas at Angmering (TQ0504) and Littlehampton (TQ0302). There is a Shrine or Temple a few miles to the west at Lancing Ring (TQ1706), two others at Chanctonbury Ring (TQ1312) and another at Findon (TQ1009).

RIB2220 - Milestone of Constantine I

...] son of the deified Constantius Pius Augustus.
[...]
DIVI
CONSTANT[...]
PII AVG
FILIO
Constantine I, A.D. 306-37, since Constantine may have been Caesar.Haverfield (EE) classes this as either a milestone or an honorific pillar; he prefers the latter suggestion as he knew of no Roman road in that locality. The recognized line for the road from Chichester eastwards runs 3.2 km. inland. In territory so devoid of stone this is not an impossible distance for a shift of the stone as building-material in Roman times.

References for Novvs Portvs?

  • Chronicle of the Roman Emperors by Chris Scarre (Thames & Hudson, London, 1995);
  • The Roman Inscriptions of Britain by R.G. Collingwood and R.P. Wright (Oxford 1965); 

Roman Roads near Novvs Portvs?

Possible Coastal Road: E (24) to Anderitvm (Pevensey, East Sussex) N (7) to Hassocks (West Sussex) Probable Road: NNE (30) to Holtye (Sussex) Probable Coastal Road: W (27) to Noviomagvs Regnorvm (Chichester, West Sussex)