Page last updated at 19:49 GMT, Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Replica mosaic is to be auctioned

Orpheus pavement
Auctioneers have not put a value on the mosaic

A reconstruction of the largest Roman mosaic ever found in Britain is to go on sale later this year.

The copy of the Orpheus pavement, found in Woodchester, Gloucestershire, took its creators 10 years to complete and has 1.6 million pieces.

It is currently on display at Prinknash Abbey, near Stroud but has no home and the unnamed owner has decided to sell.

The original, dating to 325 AD, was last uncovered in 1973 when it was decided to make the replica.

More than 15,000 visitors had descended on Woodchester - causing chaos in the small village - to see the original which is normally buried beneath a churchyard.

Brothers Bob and John Woodward, realising that another display might never take place, decided to make a full-scale reconstruction.

The Roman villa at Woodchester near Stroud is thought to have belonged to someone of large wealth and influence.

'Mythological figure'

Of its 60 rooms, 20 had mosaic floors including the large hall which contained the Orpheus pavement featuring one of the most important figures in Greek mythology.

Sometimes called the father of music and poetry, Orpheus was presented with his lyre by the god Apollo.

He was also one of the few mythological figures to enter the underworld and return.

The mosaic, which breaks down into sections, is easily transportable and can be set up in three hours. It is due to be auctioned at Chorley's in Gloucestershire on 24 June.

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