Dorset’s Archaeology in 150 Words #6: Hinton St Mary Romano-British Mosaic

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Discovered by a local Blacksmith in 1963, and later excavated by Dorchester Museum, in a field in the village of Hinton St Mary, Dorset, was a large, almost complete Roman mosaic which appears to feature a portrait bust of Jesus Christ as its centrepiece.

Traces of a substantial building, probably a villa, were excavated. The walls surrounding the mosaic had been demolished, probably in the post-Roman period. Limited study has been carried out on the building complex.

The mosaic was a continuous floor in two panels for one large room, with a mixture of pagan and Christian imagery such as Bellerophon mounted on Pegasus killing the Chimera (a three headed monster), and several hunting scenes.

The larger panel, 17x15feet, contains the centrepiece that is thought to be one of the earliest representations of Christ and possibly the only portrait on a mosaic floor from across the Roman Empire. The figure is situated next to a Christian Chi Rho symbol flanked by two pomegranates.

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