Like a great historical detective novel, here is the story of the legend of the Orpheus Mosaic and how it was discovered once, hidden and re-discovered once more.
IT was, as Roger Gale, eminent member of the Society of Antiquaries of London so eloquently and tantalisingly put it in 1728 “the finest pavement that the sun ever shone upon in England.”
Such was its significance, so exquisite its craftsmanship, that no sooner had it been found after well over a millennium beneath the Wiltshire soil than an engraving was scrupulously made by a leading artist of the day to convey its splendour to the outside world.
It was George Vertue’s finely detailed image, along with Gale’s mouth-watering eulogy that cast an enduring spell over Swindon archaeologists Bryn Walters and Bernard Phillips some 250 years later.
Surely the magnificent Orpheus Mosaic that was again lost to the world during the 18th Century so soon after its rediscovery, could once more be located, they hoped.