- Museum number
Fragment of mosaic pavement from the apse at one end of a reception room. The mosaic depicts Venus superimposed against a scallop shell; the upper portion of her body is lost, and only her legs (in white) and her left hand survive, the frame truncating her ankles. Behind her is a billowing blue cloak, and further folds in red and yellow ochre on either side of her. The scallop shell is depicted as an open fan with black ribs and flutes shaded red, grey and white. The scalloped edge has alternate red and white tesserae between black fillets, giving it a jewelled effect, and with small circles at the points; an undulating line completes the lower edge.
Enclosing the figure is a succession of concentric bands of ornament comprising a black double fillet, a black edged red band and a wave pattern. Along the straight bottom edge is a design based on tangent opposed undulating lines, the parts nearest the edge shaded alternately red and buff and including volutes; the series of central spaces is formed into involuted hearts with yellow spindles at their bases and including a small yellow ochre triangle.The design is surrounded by a band of straight-tongued double guilloche with alternate strands and tongues shaded red and white, and yellow and white (but with the guilloche below Venus of three-strand type in red and white). It is contiguous with a black-edged red band, a band of simple guilloche in red, blue-grey and white, a frieze depicting a procession of five dolphins and shell-fish, and another black-edged red band. Three of the dolpins swim right to left, two left to right. Some of the larger white spaces avoe and below the dolphins are filled randomly with striped oval shells that may be scallops and there are two fish. Along the chord are traces of a (probably rectangular) panel delineated by a single black fillet, with fish similar to the fish in the dolphin frieze. The outer border is of coarse red tesserae.
- Production date
Width: 490 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- 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.
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.
- On display (G49/wall)
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number