A new project will see sections of a North York Moors mosaic recreated by local school pupils and community members close to where the original was found.
The Beadlam Roman Villa mosaic lay undiscovered until 1966, when excavations began to uncover the remains of a relatively large villa dating from the third and fourth centauries AD. The mosaic was damaged, but what remained was carefully lifted in sections and is now housed at the English Heritage Archaeology Store, located in Helmsley.
Now, as part of the Ryevitalise Landscape Partnership – which is working with communities in the catchment area of the River Rye and its tributaries – sections of the mosaic are to be recreated and displayed to the public. Children from Nawton Community Primary School have already completed one section of the design, with workshops at Ryedale School planned for later this term. On Saturday 28 May, members of the public can take their turn, with mosaic sessions taking place at the English Heritage Archaeology Store throughout the day and artefacts from the Roman Villa also on display (booking essential). The team will then be at Ryedale Show on 26 July for a final opportunity to get involved. The completed mosaics will be housed permanently within the community, including in the schools in which they were made.
Sue Kershaw, Mosaic Artist from Huttons Ambo, York, has been responsible for planning the recreations and running the workshops with both children and adults, she said:
“I’ve been absolutely fascinated by Roman mosaics for the last twenty years, so I was thrilled to be asked to recreate something of such local significance, it really is a dream come true.
“It actually came as quite as a surprise, as I’d never heard of the Beadlam villa and its mosaic. The site isn’t open to the public and the original mosaic isn’t on display, so it felt like I was discovering one of Yorkshire’s best kept secrets. I’m so pleased this project will allow more people to learn about the Roman history on our doorstep.”
Amy Carrick, Ryevitalise Education and Engagement Officer at the North York Moors National Park Authority, said:
“This is a wonderful way to ensure that the legacy of the Romans in Beadlam is not forgotten. The mosaics not only give a fascinating glimpse into the lives of Romans in Yorkshire, but the very tactile process of building a mosaic provides a unique connection to the past.
“Throughout the process, the children have also learned about how and why people often settled and developed communities close to rivers, in this case the River Riccal.
“Our historic relationship with waterways has been largely lost over time, however the Ryevitalise project is working to restore the natural and cultural heritage of these very special environments.”
Nawton primary school pupil Zara, aged 7, who along with friend Isla added the final pieces to their school mosaic said:
“I do like writing, but making something helps you understand the information much better. We’re learning about the Romans, and now we know that they lived really nearby. It was hard to get all the pieces in the right place but amazing to touch it at the end, like stroking a finished jigsaw.”