The Hinton St Mary Mosaic
- The Hinton St Mary Mosaic
Mosaic; a continuous floor in two large panels, joined by an eleven foot opening; the smaller of the two rooms has three rectangular panels, the centre one depicting Bellerophon mounted on Pegasus spearing the Chimæra, the side panels show hunting scenes; the larger floor has a central roundel surrounded by four lunettes and four quarter-circles, in the centre is a human bust with a chi-rho monogram behind the head, the outer corners depict four male busts, winds or Evangelists, three of the lunettes depict hunting scenes, one shows a tree.
- Found/Acquired: Hinton St Mary, villa
- (Europe,United Kingdom,England,Dorset,Hinton St Mary)
- Length: 28.4 feet
- Width: 19.6 feet
- Length: 8.6 millimetres
- Width: 5.9 metres
Inscription Typesacred monogram
Inscription Positioncentral roundel
2011 23 June-9 Oct, London, BM, Treasures of Heaven
2010-2011, London, BM/BBC, ‘A History of the World in 100 Objects’
2006 31 Mar-29 Oct, York, Yorkshire Museum, Constantine
29 December 1995
Reason for analysis
Analysis of Coating and Mortar from Hinton St Mary Mosaic Pavement
The Roman mosaic pavement was lifted from Hinton St Mary in Dorset and set into mortarin the floor of the Central Saloon of the British Museum in 1965. Building work for theGreat Court Scheme may necessitate moving the mosaic from its present position. The Stone,Wall paintings and Mosaics Section of the Department of Conservation has investigated theease of moving one corner of the mosaic from the bed of mortar. Analysis of severalapparently different materials from the mortar layer was carried out.The top millimetre of the mortar appear to be consolidated with a translucent, plasticmaterial. A small sample of the consolidated mortar was removed and the mortar physicallyseparated from the consolidant. The thin layer of consolidant retrieved was placed in adiamond cell in a beam condenser in a Fourier transform infra-red spectrometer. Thespectrum (ANAL\HINT1) was a good match for polyvinyl acetate.Several large pieces of mortar were collected from the debris produced by undercutting themosaic and their density measured by water displacement. Knowledge of the density isimportant in order to calculate the weights of various sections of mosaic to enable design ofa suitable backing and lifting method. The density was measured to be approximately2.1 g/cm3.During the investigation, the hardness of different areas of mortar was found to vary. Samples ofthe harder mortar were collected. Some of the mortar was ground to a powder and analysedusing x-ray diffractometry (CONS\HINTON). This indicated the mortar to be a mixture ofcalcite and quartz. This is indicative of a lime/sand mortar. An intact piece of mortar wasmounted in an epoxy block and ground to a flat surface. This was examined in a scanningelectron microscope with energy dispersive analysis of x-rays. The mortar contained largegrains of silica and a few grains of an iron rich material. These were dispersed in a matrixformed predominantly of a calcium silicate type material with a calcium/silicon ratio ofapproximately 3:1. A small amount of aluminium was also detected in the matrix. Calciumsilicate matrices are present in cement.The consolidant material is a polyvinyl acetate and will soften in acetone. The mortar hasa density of 2.1 g/cm3. The hard mortar is a lime/sand base
Analysis reference number
Britain, Europe and Prehistory
Mosaic; a continuous floor in two large panels, joined by an eleven inch opening; the smaller of the two rooms has three rectangular panels, the centre one depicting Bellerophon mounted on Pegasus spearing the Chimæra, the side panels show hunting scenes; the larger floor has a central roundel surrounded by four lunettes and four quarter-circles, in the centre is a human bust with a chi-rho monogram behind the head, the outer corners depict four male busts, winds or Evangelists, three of the lunettes depict hunting scenes, one shows a tree.
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Object reference number: BCB12907
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