Mosaic from a villa

Roman Britain, 4th century AD
From Hemsworth, Dorset

Venus rising from the sea

It was first noted that there was a Roman villa with numerous mosaics at Hemsworth in 1831. However, agricultural work continued on the site, and by the time the area was again uncovered in 1908, much had been lost.This panel is the flooring of an apse at one end of a large and imposing reception room. The scene is of Venus, the Roman goddess of love and beauty, rising from the sea, standing on a shell. She is surrounded in the outer border by fanciful dolphins and other marine creatures.

When placed on display at the British Museum before the First World War (1914-18), the panel was heavily restored using modern brick, stone and mortar. The curve of the outer edge was slightly distorted through inaccuracies in the mounting of the radial sections in which the pavement was lifted: a more accurate view of the design is now conveyed by the present mounting of the sections. Careful cleaning has revealed the true colours of the tesserae.

Find in the collection online

More information



Width: 4.900 m

Museum number

P&EE 1908 12-15 1


Gift of Lord Alington


Find in the collection online

Search highlights

There are over 4,000 highlight objects to explore