Chichester Harbour Trust



Widespread finds of artefacts of the Neolithic Period, and Iron Age works on Hayling Island, testify to the early colonisation of Chichester Harbour by man.

In the Roman period the harbour was of sufficient importance to be developed initially as a military base. Thereafter, with the growth of Chichester and the development of the palace at Fishbourne, it served an important local community and, through a network of roads spreading from the harbour, a much wider area as well. It is believed that Stane Street - the important Roman artery from Chichester to London - started at Dell Quay.

The good soils around the harbour attracted early Saxon settlers and agriculture flourished. Grain made the harbour area important in later centuries and in the saltings many examples of broken dykes show where landowners attempted to reclaim land from marsh.

 Around the shores are the remains of several mills that served the harbour and its hinterland.

The harbour developed as an important port, with landings at Dell Quay and Bosham and, from the 13th century onwards, Emsworth. The harbour never had deep-water anchorages but it served coastal trading until well after the arrival of the railways. There were considerable fishing fleets and a flourishing oyster dredging industry until well into the 20th century.





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