Page last updated at 11:44 GMT, Monday, 5 May 2008 12:44 UK

Abbey's medieval mosaic restored

Cosmati Pavement conservation
The mosaic surface has been protected under carpet since the 1870s

Centuries of dirt and grime are being removed from a Medieval mosaic as two years of restoration work begins at Westminster Abbey in central London.

Henry III commissioned the Cosmati Pavement, an intricate multi-coloured marble, stone and glass floor, as a 13th Century centrepiece for the abbey.

Conservationists are also restoring damaged parts of the mosaic, measuring seven-and-a-half square metres.

It is hoped the restored mosaic will go on permanent public display.

Its fragile surface has been largely protected under carpet since the 1870s.

The mosaic contains a coded inscription that predicts the world will end after 19,683 years.

Similar work can be found around the abbey's tombs of Henry III and Edward the Confessor, also thought to have been laid in 1268.

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