Archaeologists have characterized the discovery of a late Roman mosaic beneath a field in Rutland as the “most exciting” discovery in Britain for a century.
It is the first artwork in Britain to represent scenes from the Iliad, including the battle between the Greek hero Achilles and the Trojan prince Hector, which occurs at the end of the epic poem.
In fact, only a small number of mosaics with equal representation have been uncovered across Europe.
Given how unusual the mosaic is, the Department for Digital, Media, Culture and Sport (DCMS) – on the advice of Historic England – designated the artwork and the surrounding villa complex as an archaeological site of national importance.
The Rutland Mosaic, which measures approximately 7 m by 11 m, was initially found by Jim Irwin, son of landowner Brian Naylor.
Reflecting on the discovery of the spot, Mr Irwin said: “Walking through the fields with the family turned into an incredible discovery.”
A preliminary investigation was carried out by the University of Leicester Archaeological Service (ULAS) in August last year, after Historic England obtained emergency excavation funds.
The striking mosaic, believed to be the centerpiece of a large dining area, was probably commissioned by a wealthy man with knowledge of classical literature.
Experts have dated the artwork to sometime in the 3rd or 4th century AD, and believe it was later reused based on evidence of fire damage and cracks.
John Thomas, deputy director of ULAS who led the excavation, said: “This is certainly the most exciting Roman mosaic discovery in the UK in the last century.
“It gives us new perspectives on the people of the time, their relationship with classical literature, and it tells us a lot about the person who commissioned this piece.
“It’s a man with a knowledge of the classics, who had the money to commission a piece of detail like this, and it’s the first illustration of these stories we’ve ever found in Britain.”
Mr Thomas said it was rare for a villa like Rutland to be completely so well preserved.
Meanwhile, Duncan Wilson, who runs Historic England, said: “By protecting this site we are able to continue to learn from it, and look forward to what future excavations can teach us about the people who lived there 1,500 years ago.” used to live.”
Richard Clarke, county archaeologist from Leicestershire and Rutland, praised Mr Irwin and his family for the “quick and responsible actions” in bringing it to the attention of the authorities.
“It is my privilege to be involved in the investigation and it is my pleasure to work with such a skilled group of amateurs and professionals,” he said.
Discovery of the Mosaic will be featured on the UK television program Digging for Britain. bbc two Next year.
In the meantime, Historic England and Rutland County Council will attempt to find a site to display and explain the finds from the villa. More excavations are to take place early next year.
Credit: www.independent.co.uk /