Mosaic from 4th century Roman villa to be revealed at Salisbury Museum

By Christian Engel | 22 April 2014

A 4th century Roman Mosaic will be the first exhibit to be installed in the new Wessex Gallery of Archaeology

A black and white photo of a man looking at a large roman floor mosaic outside a house
The intricately-patterned mosaic was uncovered during the late 1950s© Courtesy Salisbury Museum
The mosaic floor of a 4th century Roman villa will be the first exhibit to join the new Wessex Gallery of Archaeology, opening this summer in the Salisbury Museum in Wiltshire.

The Downton Mosaic, which will take three weeks to install, depicts a drinking cup with a pair of handles shaped like dolphins. It is believed to have been in use for 50 years.

A black and white photo of two men looking at a large roman mosaic on the ground
© Courtesy Salisbury Museum
It was uncovered during the late 1950s on a new housing development in Moot Close, Downtown in South Wiltshire.

“We believe this section of the mosaic came from the central room of the villa, which may have been the dining room”, says Adrian Green, the museum’s director.

"The date of the objects found at the villa suggest it was built in the late third to early fourth century AD.

"The mosaic is made from tesserae - small cubes of stone and pottery laid closely together to form a pattern.

“Considering its age, it’s in excellent condition. No other mosaics of this quality have been found in the Salisbury area.”

The new gallery, which has cost £2.4 million, will house one of the country's largest collections of Stonehenge and prehistoric artefacts, comprising more than 2,000 items.

Among the exhibits will be the recently discovered Amesbury Archer – popularly dubbed the ‘King of Stonehenge’.

“We’ll have some incredibly rare and exciting artefacts which have never been shown in public and fascinating displays which will give a wonderful insight into early Britain, from the mathematical genius of the ancient Britons and Beaker people through to the Roman invasion, the Norman conquest and medieval Salisbury”, says Green.

The gallery will replace the Stonehenge, Pitt-Rivers and Early Man galleries, which are now closed to the public. It has received nearly £1.8 million in funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

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