Leopard and Gazelle Mosaic from Dewlish Villa
- Art Funded
- Edward Hurst
A vividly depicted scene of a leopard attacking a gazelle is the highlight of this fragment of Roman mosaic floor which was discovered at Dewlish, Dorset.
The panel is a surviving part of a much larger floor that once graced the principal room of a Roman villa. The remains of the villa, built and enlarged during the third and fourth centuries, were first discovered in the 18th century and were excavated between 1969 and 1979.
This mosaic fragment originally formed part of the border around a central design. Decorative bands of guilloche frame the scene of the gazelle and the leopard, which is one of the finest examples of Roman mosaic ever found in Britain. The animals are shown in lively detail, with blood clearly seen dripping from the gazelle’s wound. It is the work of the nearby Durnovarian school of mosaicists, probably made in the second half of the fourth century.
The mosaic now joins two other fragments of floor from the same villa in the collection of the newly refurbished Dorset County Museum in Dorchester.
The Dewlish villa had been excavated in the 1740s and again in the 1790s recorded by the Dorset historian John Hutchins. The Leopard and Gazelle panel in Room 11 of the villa was discovered in 1973 during an archaeological excavation carried out between 1