Villa’s mosaic floor named as one of UK’s top historic surfaces

A mosaic floor at Bignor Roman Villa SUS-160706-155924001
A mosaic floor at Bignor Roman Villa SUS-160706-155924001

Mosaic floors at Bignor Roman Villa in Pulborough have been named as one of the UK’s top 20 historic floors.

The accolade has been bestowed by the heritage charity the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB).

The list of top 20 floors supports History at Your Feet, a campaign to encourage everyone to be more aware of the importance of old floors.

Bignor was one of the earliest antiquarian finds when unearthed in the early 19th century. The mosaic floor was first seen by farmer George Tupper after centuries in the soil. He uncovered the face of a young man, then revealed a larger mosaic depicting the figure of the man.

SPAB director Matthew Slocombe said: “We thought long and hard when putting our Top 20 together. We wanted to include some obvious ‘show stoppers’ and clearly the wonderful - and early - find at Bignor is in a very special category. Roman mosaic floors were works of art.

“To paraphrase the words of our founder, William Morris, we looked for the ‘beautiful and useful’. In its heyday, the mosaic floors at Bignor most certainly fitted the description.

“SPAB has always been a champion of simple, vernacular buildings and materials and many of our other Top 20 choices reflect that.”

Pictured is the Roman mosaic of Venus and the Gladiators - one of several magnificent floors at Bignor. Photo: Lisa Tupper.