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Mosaics and tesserae

Mosaic from Foscott Roman villa now in Queen's Temple, StoweA technique of decoration used mainly on floors or walls involving the setting tesserae in a cement matrix. It was employed by Roman and later craftsmen with as much artistry as painting or tapestry work.


A tessera is a small square-sectioned block of tile, stone or glass. A plain tiled floor might have tesserae 25mm square. Black and white stone tesserae 5-15mm square were often used for simple patterns. More elaborate ones were produced with variously coloured glass tesserae of much smaller size for floors, walls or even ceilings.


Mosaic floors have been found in excavation at Foscott Roman villa, although this was moved to the Queen's Temple, Stowe, and The Rye Roman villa in High Wycombe.