The mosaic from Hinton St Mary is one of the most celebrated and iconic survivals from Roman Britain. The central roundel features the bust of a man with the Christian Chi- Rho symbol behind his head, which most scholars have concluded is one of the earliest representations of Jesus Christ from the ancient world, and probably the first to be found on a mosaic. Previous excavations in the 1960s at this Dorset site and later geophysical surveys suggested the mosaic belonged to a much larger complex of buildings described as a Romano-British ‘courtyard villa’, perhaps home to a wealthy Christian family. In 2020, the British Museum initiated a research and training project to test these previous interpretations and 2 seasons of archaeological excavation have taken place at Hinton St Mary, combined with new geophysical surveys. This talk will present some of the most important results of this on-going project, which demonstrate that much of what we thought we knew about Roman Hinton St Mary is wrong and will need to be rewritten.
Dr Peter Guest, Director of Vianova Archaeology & Heritage Services, is an archaeologist and numismatist with over 30 years’ experience as a finds specialist, excavator, researcher, teacher and curator. Peter specialises in the Roman period and is particularly interested in Britannia and the northwestern provinces, the Roman army and frontiers, as well as Roman coinage and the economy. Author of over 60 publications, Peter has also contributed to various TV and radio broadcasts, including Time Team, Digging for Britain, and The Story of Wales. Peter has spoken to BACAS previously about the excavations he conducted over several years on the site of the legionary fortress at Caerleon.
The talk is taking place at the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution, 16 Queen Square, Bath, BA1 2HN on Thursday 13th October, 7.30pm, with an admission charge of £4 for members, and £5 for the general public. Pay on the door.
Illustration: © The Trustees of the British Museum