Friday, February 23, 2007

Hinton St Mary, Dorset

In 1963, on the southern edge of the village of Hinton St Mary in North Dorset, a mosaic floor of Roman date was discovered by Mr W J White, the local blacksmith, during building work. The mosaic contains a portrait generally accepted to be of Christ. It is of importance as evidence for early Christianity in Britain in the third and fourth centuries AD.

Shortly after its discovery the mosaic was removed and taken to the British Museum for conservation (where it is now on display).

The mosaic covered two rooms of possibly a Roman villa. It is largely red, yellow and cream in colouring. On stylistic grounds it has been dated to the 4th century and is attributed to the workshop of the Durnovarian school of mosaic art.

The panel in the larger room is 17ft by 15ft. A central circle surrounds a portrait bust of a man in a white pallium standing before a Christian Chi Rho symbol and two pomegranates. He is generally identified as Christ, although the Emperor Constantine has also been suggested. On each side of this are four semi-circles, each featuring forest and hunting scenes, mostly of a dog and a deer. In the corners are four quarter circles containing portarit busts, either representing the winds or the seasons.

References for the British Museum:$+with+all_unique_id_index+is+$=OBJ1264&submit-button=summary