Rudston Charioteer Mosaic

Contributed by Hull and East Riding Museum

Centrepiece from the Rudston Charioteer Mosaic ©Hull and East Riding Museum, Hull Museums

Iron Age chariot burials are also a feature of the Parisi, the native pre-Roman trabe in the East Riding area.The Charioteer Mosaic was found in 1971 at a Romano-British villa at Rudston, East Yorkshire. It dates to the 4th century AD and would have graced a dining room in the house of a wealthy family.

The central panel depicts a victorious charioteer standing in his 'quadriga' or four-horse chariot. He is holding his symbols of victory - a palm frond and a wreath, the winner's crown. Around the central circle are four roundels depicting the seasons as beautiful women.

Chariots also appear on a mosaic from another Roman villa found at Horkstow in North Lincolnshire. On this example four chariots are shown racing around a track rather like a cartoon - one of the contestants is even falling out of his chariot! Depictions of chariots are very rare outside the region and some believe this may indicate the presence of racecourses or 'circuses' nearby.

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  • 1. At 18:51 on 14 March 2010, arthur godfrey wrote:

    This mosaic was discovered much earlier than you state; I remember it being on the original site, inside a wooden building, in the 1950's

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  • 2. At 19:42 on 8 April 2010, Pete Brown wrote:

    I was the person who first uncovered the charioteer in autumn 1971. We had opened a new area of the villa in a field beyond the roadside ditch and realised that the main buildings there extended under the hedge to the roadside ditch. We could tell that a central panel was just beyond the area and needed to ascertain what was there prior to covering it, to be lifted next season. I cut the box section on the last day to reveal this and we saw the charioteer for the first time in perhaps 16 centuries. The expert David Neal came up to draw the figure next year and commented that this was probably the finest workmanship he had seen in Roman Britain. A number of mosaics were found before this one and it must have bee na different one that you saw in the 50s.

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