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Wednesday, 5 September, 2001, 11:20 GMT 12:20 UK
Mosaic 'could leave Britain'
Orpheus mosaic
The mosaic depicts Orpheus charming the animals
A campaign is under way to prevent a giant mosaic from leaving Britain.

Two brothers created the replica of the Roman Great Orpheus Pavement with 1.6 million pieces of clay.

The 4th Century original, now buried under the soil at Woodchester, near Stroud, Gloucestershire, is the largest known Roman mosaic north of the Alps.

The modern version has now been put up for sale with a likely price tag of more than 1m and there are fears it could go to an overseas buyer.

Bob and John Woodward, who grew up near Woodchester, spent eight years making their exact copy after the pavement was uncovered by archaeologists.

Mosaic lion
Many animals are picked out in the tiles
The original lies under Woodchester churchyard and is unlikely ever to be seen by the public again.

The Woodward brothers' version has been acclaimed by academics for its accuracy and beauty.

It depicts Orpheus charming all forms of life with his lyre.

Gloucestershire entrepreneur Alec Lawless has tried to find somewhere for a permanent display, so far without success.

A recent three-month exhibition drew admiration, but not as many visitors as he had hoped.

Woodchester excavation
The remains of a grand villa lie under the soil
He said he wanted the mosaic to stay in the Woodchester area, ideally alongside an established tourist attraction.

Now Peter Wynn of Gloucester City Council is trying to bring together a consortium to buy the replica to prevent it leaving Britain.

Thirteen years ago it was valued at 1m.

He told BBC Radio Gloucestershire: "I don't think people realise this is a wonderful opportunity.

"The British Museum has described it as being of great national importance."

He hoped to win over potential supporters at an exhibition at Hartpury College in Gloucester on Wednesday.

See also:

29 Aug 01 | Education
Digging the past
19 May 00 | Europe
Turkish dam threatens Roman dig
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