A “luxurious” Roman bath house owned and used by society’s elite has been discovered beneath a public park.
Ground penetrating radar equipment was used to discover three buildings below Priory Park in Chichester, West Sussex.
Archaeologists uncovered the footings of two Roman town houses, one of which had its own hot room and bath suite.
James Kenny, of Chichester District Council, said: “What’s remarkable about this discovery is that it has survived over 1,000 years in an occupied city.”
He said it was “almost unique” to see Roman remains in such a complete state.
“This is because they are under a park that has never been built on,” he added.
The “extremely well-appointed, luxurious town house would have been owned by the richest people in the city,” the archaeologist said.
“It would have been part of a series of rooms, including a changing room, a warm room, a hot room, possibly an even hotter room and then into a room with a cold plunge bath.
“All of these rooms would have been part of a very high status bath suite at the back of a very grand house.”
He said he believed the houses, which probably date to the third or fourth century AD, were originally located on a street which would have been lost when a reservoir was built in the park during World War Two.
Scans have revealed that another Roman street ran further east under Priory Park, but this will not be uncovered.
Mr Kenny said there were no plans to keep the remains on permanent display, and the ground would be returned to its current state once work on the site had been completed.