Mosaics are patterns or pictures made from lots of small pieces. Roman mosaics used cubes (called ‘tesserae’ in Latin) made of different coloured stones or tile. Tools and technique are described in a display at Canterbury Roman Museum.
The floor of the Roman town house remains, around which the museum is built, has a paving of plain stone ‘tesserae’ with mosaic insets. These have geometrical flower patterns with interlaced borders.
Nearby is a mosaic with two-handled cup motif, perhaps representing a wine cup. This colourful mosaic was found at 51 Burgate Street in 1868, while digging trenches for new drainage eight feet (2.4m) below street level. Other mosaic floors, with black, white and red cubes, were found beside and below it. The city authorities were only able to preserve the section with cup motif for Canterbury Museum. They had difficulty removing it, as the matrix (joining material) had disintegrated. Plates of sheet iron had to be pushed underneath to raise the mosaic. It was then restored by Mr H. C. Sutton, a master mason of Canterbury, using an accurate drawing made by the city architect, Mr J. C. Hall, at the time the mosaic was discovered.