Sparsholt flower mosaic floor
Roman, 4th century AD
Found during archaeological excavations on the site of Sparsholt Roman Villa, West Wood, Sparsholt, Hampshire between 1965-1972 by D E Johnston
The mosaic occupied the principal room of the residential corridor-building at the villa. One can imagine the proud villa owner entertaining his guests in this room. The mosaic design is decorative, but may also have had a religious or symbolic meaning for the owner. In Romano-Celtic religion, the central eight-petalled flower or star could represent life, and is here surrounded by a ring of waves, while the meandering swastika or peltae design could represent the heavens. The outer flower-like cups and scallop shells may represent the elements of earth and water. Also to be seen in the mosaic are two-strand and four-strand guilloche or plait designs. Surrounding the mosaic is a finely worked band of right-angled Z-pattern and a coarse plain red-brick border.
A blackened area, seen at the bottom of the image shown here, seems to have been caused by ashes from a brazier placed in the room as a heater - the room did not have underfloor heating. A rough looking patch of mosaic just to the side seems to represent an ancient repair. When the villa fell into ruin soil and rubble accumulated over the floor and it remained undamaged, except for a roughly circular hole in the border of the mosaic made by a tree root. The mosaic was lifted in May 1969, for conservation, and has been on display in Winchester City Museum since 1970.