The Excavation Report for the excavations at Mud Hole Villa in 2019 has been finalised and is now available to download. It makes for interesting reading – particularly surprising is the “bone” report – not one usually at the top of the reading list. Mud Hole Villa is compared to other Roman establishments including Fishbourne Palace on account of the lavish meals consumed and suggests a possible use of the building – a hunting lodge. Was this the Michelin starred eatery of its time? The bulk of the report is devoted to the scholarly interpretation of the mosaic by Anthony Beeson to whom we are greatly indebted.
Also available to download is a review of the book “The Boxford Mosaic” by the Journal of Roman Archaeology. This majors on Anthony Beeson’s interpretation of the mosaic but also refers to the colour photographs of our talented volunteers David Shepherd, Chris Forsey and Richard Miller.
Sales are going well. According to Countryside Books, over 1000 copies of The Boxford Mosaic book have been sold. The book is now available from many bookshops including Blackwells in Oxford and online. Oxbow Books will include copies on their stand at the Current Archaeology Awards at the end of the month. Copies are also available from St.Andrew’s Church or the Heritage Centre in Boxford.
From left to right: Authors Matt Nichol, Anthony Beeson and Joy Appleton having a brief respite from signing the new book The Boxford Mosaic by local publishers Countryside Books. The book is available from W.H.Smith in Newbury or direct from the publishers https://countrysidebooks.co.uk
November 19th – An evening at the Corn Exchange with around 300 in the audience, excellent speakers and a book launch! All in all, a fitting tribute to the Roman Boxford Mosaic and the community group that worked to bring it back to life, this summer. What a wonderful way to close the project!
Anthony Beeson’s article about the Boxford Mosaic in the Current Archaeology magazine should be out today.
Speaking of printing ………………the new book “The Boxford Mosaic” authors Anthony Beeson and Matt Nichol, will be on sale from Monday 18th November. If you are coming to the Feedback Session on Tuesday 19th November at the Corn Exchange you can pick up copies there. Otherwise W.H.Smith in Newbury is stocking it or it’s available online from the publishers Countryside Books https://countrysidebooks.co.uk
In anticipation of a bumper crowd after the Open Day in August, the Boxford History Project has arranged a Feedback Session called The Wondrous Boxford Mosaic at the Corn Exchange in Newbury with speakers Anthony Beeson and Matt Nichol with an introduction by me. Date: 19th November at 7.30pm Tickets are available from the Corn Exchange Box Office £5 per adult; children under 16 free.0845 5218 218 or online at https://www.cornexchangenew.com
A new book entitled The Boxford Mosaic (authors Anthony Beeson and Matt Nichol) will be available on the same evening and can be pre-ordered with ticket purchases through the Corn Exchange Box Office at £12. Alternatively books can be purchased from WHSmith in Newbury or online at the publisher – Countryside Books https://countrysidebooks.co.uk Countryside books are offering a discount on 2 or more purchases. The book is due to be out on November 18th.
Thought this from Anthony Beeson might be helpful to those subscribing to the blog who were not volunteers.
The Triumphs of Pelops and Bellerophon Anthony Beeson
This remarkable pavement is unlike any found in Britain for its originality, design and the subjects covered. It attempts a three dimensional or trompe l’oeil effect and celebrates triumphal feats.
Four telamons or giants stand at the corners supporting a pergola covered with guilloche (plaited rope) pattern. They step out of their roundels. They are so far matched only on a pavement in the Vatican museum, Rome. Four cupids holding the crown of victory burst out of their roundels on each side.
In this outer border Hercules slays a centaur and a cantharus (drinking cup) fill on one side. In the next border an archer possibly Pelop’s son Alcathous, shoots at the Cythaeronian lion in the other border behind the back of the telamon. The fleeing lion is joined in the border by a figure about to bridle a horse which possibly represents Alexander’s triumph over his steed Bucephalus when he turns it away from viewing its shadow.
In the centre of the mosaic one section shows Bellerophon on Pegasus defeating the terrifying monster Chimera, who had the head and body of a lion, the head of a goat growing from her back and a serpent tail, all of which shot flames. This is the finest representation of Pegasus found in Britain. The image was popular in Britannia and was gradually transformed into that of St George and represented the triumph of good over evil.
The main subject of the floor is the story of Pelops and his victory over King Oenomaus. Told that his future son in law would kill him, the king challenged each suitor to a race, but handicapped them by placing the Princess Hippodameia in their chariots to slow them down. All were defeated and beheaded. A panel shows Oenomaus presenting his daughter Hippodameia to whom a guard points. This guard is the only representation of a contemporary armed 4thcentury warrior found in Britain.
Below this panel. Pelops bribed Myrtilos, the king’s charioteer, with promises of half the kingdom to replace a lynch pin in his master’s chariot with a wax one so that the wheels came off and Oenomaus was killed. The funerary games and chariot races are reputed in myth to have been the birth of the Olympics. Myrtilos and Pelops argued and the former was thrown from a cliff, cursing his former friend as he died. Pelops’ descendants were thereby cursed.
Boxford ‘s Mosaic is now sleeping peacefully under a thick duvet of sieved soil before the trench was backfilled.
Steve and Paul barrowing and spreading whilst Mark was shovelling.
And Scud finished off with the back fill.
Hope you all have a copy of the Newbury Weekly News where the exploits of the last couple of weeks is described ……with plenty of Chris’ photos.
Yesterday many of the sponsors, who made the dig possible came to see the villa and were stunned to see the mosaic. Today many have written to say how amazed they were that the mosaic had been uncovered so professionally in 10 working days. Some achievement! Well done to all of you and thanks to the CA team for guiding us so well.
Just in case you missed the sponsors’ board at the entrance to the site:
The last couple of days have been busy recording the villa for Anthony, Matt and the team and busy for the finds processing team of Joy, Jenny and John.
What was particularly thrilling was to find that tesserae were still present and in formation under the damaged floor level where roof tiles had punched the floor into the softer than expected sand screed layer.
It has been very windy at times and some of the team have made the most of being in a hole!
Photos today from Richard
Thanks to all our photographers – Richard, David and Chris – who have made such a huge difference to the recording of the excavations and the life of a community dig. A tremendous thank you too to the Cotswold team led by Matt who have been good natured and patient with everyone…….. in all circumstances!
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