Leicester Roman mosaics go on display

The large sections of a Roman mosaic floor discovered at the old Stibbe factory site in Leicester the winter of 2016/2017 is now on public display. This is the first time the public has had a chance to see the cleaned and conserved mosaics.

The University of Leicester Archaeological Services (ULAS) was contracted to excavate the site before construction of new apartments in late 2016. They discovered most of a Roman block, including the remains of two townhouses with sections of mosaic floors in several of their rooms. The largest surviving section in one of the homes was about seven by ten feet in area, an estimated quarter of the size of the original. The design and style of the mosaic suggest it dated to the late 3rd century or early 4th.

That was exciting enough, but the largest mosaic pavement in the other home spanked its neighbor soundly with a stretch just shy of 33 feet long. It is the largest and highest quality Roman mosaic floor found in Leicester in 150 years.

Because the apartment building was going to go up Roman insula or no Roman insula, the ULAS team had to raise the mosaics in a meticulous and complex salvage operation. The mortar sealing the mosaics had long since degraded so archaeologists had to use glue and fabric to keep the tesserae together.

The public was invited to see the mosaics in situ on one weekend of May 2017, but since then the priceless pieces have been treated behind closed doors. Their return to public view will be brief (for now). The exhibition opened on Monday at BBC Radio’s studio in Leicester and runs until Friday, July 27th. Admission is free and visitors can see it Monday through Friday from 9AM to 5PM.

Those of us who can’t Uber our way to Leicester in a timely fashion will have to make do with not inconsiderable consolation of Sketchfab.


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Comment by Trevor
2018-07-18 06:40:38

I often find the holes in the mosaics more interesting than the mosaics themselves, because something or someone made them.

Comment by Cordate
2018-07-18 07:04:09

Tsk! I’ll miss seeing these by a few days but will get to check out Leicester in August. Maybe I can hook up with a dig as a volunteer!

Comment by Johann Kalb
2018-07-19 03:28:10

“Germanic cattle-farmer longhouses emerged along the southwestern North Sea coast in the third or fourth century BC and are the predecessors of the German and Dutch [thus, ‘Anglo-Saxon’] ‘Fachhallenhaus’ or Low German house.”

Also their particular Beer- , Assembly- and Banquetting housing tradition plays a role:

“GesittaĆ¾ beĆ³rselas beorna!” (i.e. ‘they shall inhabit the beer-halls of chieftains’), and -of course- real chieftain ones have ‘original Roman tesserae’ under their post holes :cool: – What Else?

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