Roman Mosaic Mad

A mosaic of Cupid riding a dolphin at Fishbourne Roman Palace

A mosaic of Cupid riding a dolphin at Fishbourne Roman Palace

© Jack Shoulder

    • Rich Romans loved to decorate the floors of their homes and public buildings with mosaics. A mosaic is a picture or pattern, made up of lots of small tiles or tesserae. The ones in our pictures were found at Brading Roman Villa on the Isle of Wight.

      A picture of a mosaic from Brading Roman Villa showing a human body with the head of a chicken© Brading Roman Villa
      What do you think the story was behind this strange cockerel mosaic?

      Mosaics have been found showing all sorts of designs. There were pictures from myths and legends, animals, birds and fish, hunting scenes, family pictures and many beautiful patterns. Roman mosaics usually had patterned borders around them.

      Here's a fun and easy way to make your own mosaic picture. All you need is a pile of old magazines with coloured pictures, some glue, a big piece of paper and a pencil. First you need to plan your design. Have a think about how you'd like your picture to look.

      You can see more mosaics from Brading Roman Villa and you can get a close up view of this mosaic from Lullingstone Roman Villa.

      They might give you some ideas.

      Cut your magazine into small squares like this.
      A picture showing squares of paper
      When you draw your design it's best to keep it very simple.

      Now the really fun bit. Go through the magazines looking for colours that you could use in your design. Tear out any pages you'd like to use and then cut the pictures up into little squares. Don't worry about making them exactly the same size - that doesn't matter.

      Lastly, glue your paper tiles onto your picture.

      Hey presto! A mosaic a Roman would be proud of. Better not try walking on it though.
      Square paper tiles arranged neatly in the style of a mosaic
      When you're trying to match your paper tiles, spare a thought for the Romans, who were working with thousands and thousands of tiny tiles.
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