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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 July, 2003, 12:52 GMT 13:52 UK
Threatened mosaics saved by 2m grant
It was feared that the 4th Century mosaics would have to be re-buried
An important archaeological site which faced being re-buried under tons of dirt has been saved.

Backers of Brading Roman Villa, on the Isle of Wight, are to receive more than 2m from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

That means they are now ready to begin work on a 2.7m scheme to replace a 100-year-old rusting metal roof currently covering the site's 4th Century mosaics.

It had been feared that if the lottery cash had not been forthcoming the mosaics would have had to have been reburied for their protection.

The villa's trustees have already raised 650,000 from visitors and supporters and are confident that the final amount of cash will be raised in the next couple of weeks.

Grave danger

Chairman of the trustees David Guy told BBC News Online that the news was not only a boost for them but also for the Island's economy and tourist industry.

He said: "It is an excellent day for the Isle of Wight.

"When we heard, first of all, we were all very relieved because the building has been in place for 100 years and if this was not done there was a grave danger that the mosaics would have had to have been covered over to protect them.

"We are now very keen for the new covered building to go up."

Visitors doubled

Work is set to get under way in the next few weeks with a finish date set for next summer.

The new building is expected to see the number of visitors double from about 20,000 a year.

The site has been listed by the World Monument Fund as one of the world's 100 most endangered sites.

The villa and its mosaics were uncovered by Captain John Thorp, a former soldier in the British Army in India, in 1880.

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