Mosaics are made from cubes (tesserae) of different-coloured stones and tiles. The tesserae are set into a bed of mortar and the gaps are grouted. When a house-owner decided to have a mosaic he would have contacted a mosaicist to discuss the types of decorative details to be put into the mosaic. There are very many possible variations in designing a mosaic and we think that mosaicists would have used a pattern book.
When the design had been chosen the mosaicist would have prepared the tesserae, cutting up stone and tile and perhaps glass too. It is possible that some parts of the mosaic were made in the mosaicists' workshop and brought to the floor ready to be laid. The rest of the design would be laid straight onto the mortar, in small sections and perhaps with the overall design marked out. Sometimes we can see that the mosaicist has had to alter a detail to get it into the space, or got it wrong.
When we study the mosaics of Roman Britain in detail we can begin to recognise differences across the county. Some motifs seem to be concentrated in particular areas, for instance. This has led to the suggestion that there were a number of mosaicists' workshops each of which worked within one part of the county - for instance, a group centred on Cirencester.
Archaeologists discovered the fine mosaic floor of Room 6 in Chilgrove Villa I in the 1960s. Unfortunately about half of the mosaic had already been destroyed, mainly by ploughing, meaning we don't know what the central section of this mosaic would have looked like. Why don't you have a go at designing your own pattern to fill the centre using our sheet below?