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Roman mosaic near the Shard
Photograph: MOLA/AndyChopping

Archaeologists have uncovered a hidden Roman mosaic near The Shard

It’s the biggest of its kind to be found in London for half a century

Sarah Cohen
Written by
Sarah Cohen

A few metres away from one of the most modern things in London can now be found one of the most ancient. A huge Roman mosaic, dating from the end of the second century or the beginning of the third, has been unearthed near The Shard. 

Specialists from the Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA), who have been working to uncover the artefact since June, say the eight-metre-long mosaic is the largest to be found in the capital for 50 years, calling it a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ discovery.

The archaeologists have deduced from the highly decorative mosaic’s design – which features flowers, geometric patterns and twisted ropes – that it was probably the floor of a ‘triclinium’: a fancy dining room where well-to-do Romans would recline and feast. This may have been part of a ‘mansio’: a kind of motel for people travelling to and from Londinium over the river.

Roman mosaic near the Shard
Photograph: MOLA/AndyChopping

The mosaic was discovered because the area is being redeveloped by TfL and property company U+I to build a housing, shopping and office-space complex called The Liberty of Southwark. Before that can happen, the mosaic is going to be lifted and taken away for further restoration and conservation, eventually being put on display so the public can admire its awesome ancient beauty. 

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