A mosaic for all seasons
Candle light must have made this floor seem magical. Created from thousands of tiny coloured stones, the intertwined patterns are exquisite.
But did the original Roman diners even notice what was beneath their feet? Do I look down at the carpet when I go to a dinner party?
More than just a floor
I can see the God of Wine, Bacchus, with his lover, Ariadne, looking out at me. Their story told in tiles. Fluted bowls with jewelled rims overflow with acanthus leaves. Was the owner using the mosaic to show off his classical education and taste to his guests, to impress or intimidate them?
In the four corners I love to look for the cupids that represent each season. As a curator I travel to Chedworth throughout the year, in sun, rain and snow. There is a thought that the villa may have been shut up in the winter months in the Roman era. Many locks and keys have been found that hint that security was a consideration, perhaps when the owners left for warmer places?
In the darker months I seek out Winter on the mosaic. He carries a hare and wears a thick hooded cloak. Hares still leap across the fields at Chedworth and I have been lucky enough to see them on my drive to the villa. I know hare bones have been found in excavations, left over from hunts and feasts.
All those watching eyes!
For me the mosaic can be appreciated in two ways. I value it as a beautiful object in its own right; an example of very fine Roman craftsmanship. But it also makes me think about the people that walked across it thousands of years ago, to entertain, eat, drink and serve. What Roman family dramas were playing out where whilst the eyes of the figures looked upon them?
The saviour of the villa
If it wasn't for the amazing number and quality of the mosaics at Chedworth the villa may not have been preserved for us today. And the dining room mosaic is the finest of them all.