New mosaic discovered in Somerset
An ancient mosaic, unearthed accidentally by workmen in Somerset,
is being hailed as one of the most important Roman finds of the
last 50 years.
The 10 by six metre section was discovered when the workmen started
digging for a new road at an office near Ilminster.
English Heritage said the find was unexpected as there were no
other indications of Roman remains in the field, at Mill House,
near the village of Lopen.
However the find will have to be buried again to protect it over
the winter while archaeologists consider the best way to preserve
The 1,640-year-old mosaic, which came to light in October, is made
of tiny red, white and blue blocks of Somerset limestone and tiles.
Unusually, it depicts a dolphin rather than geometric designs normally
seen on Roman mosaics.
English Heritage's Chief Archaeologist David Miles said: "Discoveries
of this type are few and far between.
"When they do turn up it is crucial that bodies such as English
Heritage are able to help record and preserve such sites for future
The mosaic is thought to form a floor in a large villa built a
mile from the Roman road, the Fosse Way - now the A303.
The road stretched from Lincoln to Exeter and was one of the major
routes of Roman Britain.
Rare fragments of painted wall plaster, tiles from a central heating
system and stone roof slates have also been uncovered along the
Dr David Neal, a leading mosaic expert who has dated the find to
about AD 360 said: "The site was clearly one of considerable
status, likely to be a substantial villa."
The 4th Century was the golden age for villas, especially in the
prosperous West Country.
A mosaic floor was one of the best ways of showing off wealth and
About 400 have been discovered in Britain and half of these are
in the South West.
The text for this article is from the BBC
news web site and posted by them on 7th Nov 2001