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THIS STORY LAST UPDATED: 18 March 2004 1456 GMT
Bradford mosaic reveals itself on TV
Roman mosaic
The mosaic revealed
BBC TV's Points West has been following the revealing of an incredible Roman mosaic, which has been hidden for centuries under the playing fields of St Laurence School in Bradford on Avon. Amanda Parr takes up the story...
MULTIMEDIA

• Find out how St Laurence School plans to keep alive this amazing discovery.

• Click here to see Amanda Parr's investigation in to the school's plans for BBC West's Inside Out.

Missed the dig?

No problem! You can revisit BBC Points West's Bradford on Avon Dig Diary by following the streaming video links below.

• Dig Diary 1
• Dig Diary 2
• Dig Diary 3
• Dig Diary 4
• Dig Diary 5

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SEE ALSO

BBC Points West

Archaeology and History Home Page

WEB LINKS

Wiltshire Heritage

Association for the Study and Preservation of Roman Mosaics

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FACTS

The mosaic, villa walls and hypercaust system have been uncovered by pupils and archaeologists at St Laurence School in Bradford on Avon.

The mosaic hadn't seen the light of day for 1600 years.

From Monday 11th August, the Dig Diary brings viewers to BBC One in the West a diary of the dig - a month's work condensed into a week of slots on Points West's programme at 1830 BST.
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For years, those at St Laurence School in Bradford on Avon had been puzzled by strangely regular parched lines criss-crossing their football pitch.

And the odd lump of stone peeping out from under the turf had them scratching their heads too.

Then someone had the idea of calling in the archaeologists and with their help, something incredible has emerged.

Those criss-crossing lines turned out to be the walls of two lavish, Roman villas dating from the end of the third century AD, and were lived in until the early fifth century.

It's been called one of the most significant archaeological discoveries since the early sixties.

This summer, the experts descended on the school to uncover the secrets of the past.

Points West's Amanda Parr and Will Glennon turned time detectives to follow the experts every step of the way, from the lifting of the turf to its re-laying - ready in time for the next school term.

"It's so funny to think of all the sports days played out right above this amazing discovery", says Amanda.

"It's all going on just inches below the surface. You can really imagine the kind of people that used to live in the villas.

"We're getting an idea of the kind of food they used to eat because of the bones being discovered, fine, rich foods. And delicate bits of glassware imported from the Rhineland have also been discovered.

Those working on the mosaic were struck by the thought that no-one had touched that surface in nearly 1600 years.

One of them told the Dig Diary team, "it's a spiritual moment, an intellectual and an emotinal moment. I feel overwhelmed to be here".

The mosaic is made up of huge numbers of tiny tiles, or tesserae, multicoloured, with interlocking designs of squares, coils, petals, and dolphins.

A near complete underfloor heating system has also emerged - small columns a couple of foot tall set into the ground and supporting a floor - a flue and stoke hole have been found that show hot air was pumped around the stones and up through the tiles.

And it's this room has got the experts all talking.

Some think it might have been much more than just ancient central heating...but Amanda and Will say you'll have to watch the programme to find out what the archaeologists think it could be!

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