Orpheus and the Animals: back together again

Recently I had to go to Bristol for a work meeting – booooorrrrrring 😦 . Now, whenever I have to go somewhere away from home, especially when it’s for something dull, I try to look for something interesting to do along the way.

Bristol is an easy place to find something good to look at or do, and on this visit I was able to make a quick visit to the Bristol Museum & Art Gallery to see the newly displayed mosaic of Orpheus and the Animals.

The mosaic was found at Newton St. Loe in 1837, during the construction of the Bristol to Bath section of Brunel’s Great Western Railway. It dates to between the late AD 200s and early AD 300s.


 This is only the second time it has been on public show in more than 150 years and the mosaic has had a pretty checkered history, with bits being lost, bits being damaged by being left out at the mercy of the elements and bits being damaged by burning.

Only the diligent attention of members of ASPROM, notably Anthony Beeson, made this display possible, as they spent years locating, cleaning and piecing back together the thousands of fragments.


The mosaic itself really is very fragmented so the overall design is not that clear.


However, once I’d been looking at it for a while, it became easier to make out the design and pick out scenes with individual animals.

P1000189  P1000201

The mosaic’s display has been scheduled to tie in with the upcoming exhibition at the gallery – Roman Empire: Power and People.

Here are links to some more info about the mosaic and its history:




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