Art and Design

Roman Decoration

Most art from ancient times does not survive but Roman mosaics sometimes survive because they were made of stone or glass. A few have been found in Wales.

Geometrical patterns at a Roman villa near Llantwit Major

A Roman villa once existed near Llantwit Major where there is now just a field. When they dug in the field, archaeologists discovered decorative mosaic floors. They were probably laid in the fourth century AD. Soon after this, the villa was left empty and eventually collapsed. The floors had geometrical patterns made of black and white squares.


More mosaics were discovered near Newport at the site of the Roman town of Venta Silurum, now called Caerwent. A piece is kept in Caerwent church and another mosaic of animals from Caerwent is in Newport Museum.


No additional resources required.

Look at the pictures of the Roman mosaics. What shape pieces are they made from? What colours do they use? What different shapes and patterns can you spot? You should find:

  • lozenges
  • a knot pattern
  • a labyrinth pattern a bit like a spiral
  • lines
  • parts of squares
  • interlace like a picture of two ropes twisted together
  • a heart

You can find more information about the Llantwit Major villa here.

Extended Task

Either group field trip or independent study.

From about 1850 to 1950 mosaics were fashionable for shops, especially on their doorsteps. See if you can spot mosaics in your local town and make a note or a sketch to describe them.