Day….10…The Plaster and the Scanner

I looked in the mirror at 6 today.. the days have taken their toll not a good day to meet the DG.

Chedworth at 7.30 is very beautiful. Quiet, with house martins flitting across the blue!! whispy cloud-flecked sky and the low sunlight picking out the contours of the mosaic. Lots to do.

Looking on the positive side, the wet weather brought up the colours of the mosaic very well.

Looking on the positive side, the wet weather brought up the colours of the mosaic very well.

The previous two days very wet. The once compliant soil turning to claggy mud and causing everything to get messy. Efforts to clean precious surfaces not rewarding. Morale low.

But today…life looked rosier but the loss of time has put the pressure on. The mosaic is virtually uncovered but there are questions to answer.

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Sir Ian’s concrete walls. What did they represent? They don’t appear to relate to anything and Steve the mosaic expert believed that there should be a different central design. We extended to find it but the mosaic is largely lost in the middle of the room.

A good sequence of events. On the left an early wall with a contemporary mortar floor. Both cut by the foundation trench for the limestone blocks for the colonnade wall. This was abutted by a curb that had the mosaic laid against it. The stone steps run over the curb and mosaic edge but they were probably rebuilt in the 1860s.

A good sequence of events. On the left an early wall with a contemporary mortar floor. Both cut by the foundation trench for the limestone blocks for the colonnade wall. This was abutted by a curb that had the mosaic laid against it. The stone steps run over the curb and mosaic edge but they were probably rebuilt in the 1860s.

Fay tested a Richmond wall line at the east edge of the site. Nothing but mortary backfill 0.3m down. Perhaps look a little deeper tomorrow. Carol and Harry tried the east junction of the water feature wall where it joined the corridor wall and that showed it butted the corridor… so was later.

Kate's trench to check the line of Richmond's early wall as it passed under the later bath house was filled with unexpected chunks of decoration.

Kate’s trench to check the line of Richmond’s early wall as it passed under the later bath house was filled with unexpected chunks of decoration.

Kate dug a trench where a wall should run under the later baths on the north side of the steps…and uncovered..wonderful things. Large blocks of painted plaster which could be seen to extend beyond the wall line and under the mosaic. It seems that just before the floor was laid, the plaster was thrown down as a hardcore. It looked like the painting on the plaster had been created yesterdaywith vivid colours, brush strokes and marking out lines for the stripes still visible.

Red and blue lines on cream. Part of a rubble base thrown down on which the mosaic was laid.

Red and blue lines on cream. Part of a rubble base thrown down on which the mosaic was laid.

With more rain promised for tomorrow, Bill brought the laser scanner today and as we were not ready.. he kindly used the time by carrying out a laser scan of the finest and most famous Chedworth mosaic. The one in the dining room of the West Range which shows the four seasons.

We worked, all of us, cleaning and uncovering..as the hours ticked away ..and then it was time and we watched as mysterious white orb stations were placed around the site and the scanner was set up. First creating a point cloud and then a mosaic of digital images. The two are combined to form a millimeter accurate image of the mosaic.

Though it is buried on Friday we will have an excellent record to inspire us as we seek the funding for the cover building which will enable the mosaic to be seen again.

5 thoughts on “Day….10…The Plaster and the Scanner

  1. Such an exciting week – to see the mosaic gently appear and then to be told shards of coloured plaster with a design had also been uncovered! Amazing work by Martin, Nancy and their trusty team. Let’s hope such finds will help the cause for funding.

  2. In 1963 I was a child of seven. Economically things were very tight in this country, the world of gabardine macs, Startrite shoes-but only one pair- and hand me downs for children. There was maybe one or two cars in the street, everyone had a radio, and television, black and white only, was just starting to be a bit more popular. Many things bought on the awful Hire Purchase, and a three piece suite was for life! However, everyone tried to have a summer holiday, very little foreign travelling then. This usually involved a lot of walking and educational visits! I hope this paints a bit of a picture of those days.

    My guess is that the unfortunate pink paths appeared at Chedworth in that era to promote access and enormous assumptions were made with fairly good intentions. It is a great shame to have lost so much of the mosaic, but I do hope that funds can be found for remedial work and a cover. It all sounds wonderful. Fascinating blog!

  3. I second both Judith & Janet’s comments, both Nick & I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog & seeing the photos. The mosaics look wonderful & to think they were only just beneath everyone’s feet, unbelievable – just such a pity they now have to be recovered …… great experience for you all though – well done

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