AN IMPORTANT ROMANO-BRITISH MOSAIC 3rd/4th century
AN IMPORTANT ROMANO-BRITISH MOSAIC, 3rd/4th century, attributed to the Durnovarian School of Mosaiciststhe principal panel with a leopard killing a gazelle within a guilloche border, 237cm x 190cm maximum. This mosaic represents a large fragment of the Roman pavement from Room 11 of the Roman Villa at Dewlish in Dorset. Between 1969 and 1979 a series of annual excavations under the direction of the late W.G. (Bill) Putnam uncovered an important villa complex, which evolved from a long house dating from the late 3rd century. The presence of the villa first came to light in 1740 when a storm uprooted a tree revealing a mosaic, as recorded in Hutchins "History and Antiquities of the County of Dorset" (1863, 607; originally published in 1774). Evidently more of the site was uncovered by digging and left exposed for the curious to view. In "about the year 1790" Hutchins continues "that a Mr Knight uncovered the villa once more, but few useful details are recorded from this escapade and the finds that are mentioned are now lost". These early interventions and 20th century ploughing explain the disruption to the site encountered by the scientific survey carried out between 1969 and 1979. According to the post-excavation report this mosaic dates from phase three when the original Roman farmhouse was aggrandised with some major extensions to the existing building. Putnam proposes an early 4th century date as being likely for this phase of the villa's development.