Roman mosaics design – Vieux la Romaine

Roman mosaics design evolved over the centuries when different styles developed in various parts of the empire. Roman mosaicists often composed them by surrounding a small meaningful and figurative scene with grandiose frames combining geometric shapes. Many of these at times very intricate patterns were skilfully built by repetition of simple elements.

I started documenting Roman mosaics geometrical elements in 2015 and started publishing them in 2018. I create computer files of the elements used to create them and make them available for free download by modern mosaicists or graphic artists.

Today I am sharing with you the patterns of a floor mosaic that adorned the reception room of the impressive House of the grand Peristyle of Vieux la Romaine in French Normandy. I visited this place in July 2018 and I encourage you to follow me there !

Vieux la Romaine

The archaeological site of the Gallo-Roman city of Aregenua, Vieux la Romaine is located on the territory of the town of Vieux (Calvados), about fifteen kilometers (9 miles) South of Caen in French Normandy. Capital city of the Viducasses tribe, Aregenua (This name meant in Gallic “above the mouth”, in this case of the Guigne creek that flows into the Orne river) was prosperous in the 2nd and 3rd century .

Location of the Ancient city of Aregenua - Vieux la Romaine

The Archaeological Museum

The superb Archaeological Museum of Vieux-la-Romaine, opened in 2002, is an example of what a Museum should look like to get public of all ages enjoy a visit, It displays the discoveries made on the antique site. Among them the stone and bronze statues and the beautifully carved columns, the gorgeous Mosaics and Frescoes of the house of the Grand Peristyle are exhibited.

The House of the Grand Peristyle

This exceptional villa by the richness of its decoration extends on more than 1250 m2 (12,500 sq ft) It was built around a central courtyard decorated with a basin and fountain (impluvium) and surrounded by a peristyle. The Reception Room,  courtyard and garden were decorated with frescoes, sculptures, columns and pillars decorated with bas-reliefs and mosaics. This grandiose domus is of typical Mediterranean style and clearly indicates the assimilation of Roman culture by the northern Gauls.

3D simulation of the house of the Grand Peristyle
Entrance to the House of the Grand Peristyle.

The Mosaics.

The Mosaics of the House of the Grand Peristyle are on display at the Museum.
The checkerboard Mosaic (Grande mosaique en Damier) decorated the reception room. A quarter of this mosaic has been preserved. The tesserae of black stones are made from bituminous shale from the ancient city of Augustodunum (Modern Autun) in Burgundy.

Mosaic floor from the House of the Grand Peristyle
Mosaic displayed in the Archaeological Museum

Only four colours were used to design this amazing mosaic.

the four colors of the Damier Mosaic

I have kept these colors to create drawings of the mosaics, however the models are created in Black and white to allow for the use of brighter colors.

This Checkerboard Mosaic is composed of two main square patterns arranged at 45 degrees from each other and held in place by triangular and rectangular shapes.

First square pattern of the Checkerboard mosaic.
The first square of the Checkerboard Mosaic
Second square pattern of the Checkerboard Mosaic
The second square of the mosaic.

The two squares are arranged according to the following basic pattern:

The basic element of the Checkerboard Mosaic in Vieux la Romaine
The basic element of the Checkerboard Mosaic

They are lined up on a network of perpendicular lines and separated by rectangles and triangles :

Roman mosaics designs - Model composed of 16 elements of the Checkerboard mosaic
A model composed of 16 elements.

The patterns of the rectangles on this rendition have been simplified versus the actual mosaic.

Download the graphic files

I have recreated the design of the Checkerboard Mosaic and you can download the graphic files to use them to create your own mosaic.

Download the graphic Files Vieux la Romaine Mosaic
Mosaic files for Vieux la Romaine

These JPG graphic files are in Black and White so you can choose different colors to make your mosaic.

Roman mosaics design - model of a 6 elements piece - Vieux la Romaine
Black and White model of a 6 elements mosaic

To create a mosaic model you will need to combine the pattern using a graphics program such as GIMP, Adobe Photoshop or any other program that can copy, paste and move a basic pattern.

I described the method to follow in my videos:

How to design a Roman Mosaic Border – Graphic method


Archaeological site of VIEUX LA ROMAINE : Route de Feuguerolles, 14930 Vieux, France. tel 02 31 71 10 20

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archaeology, checkerboard, mosaic, Normandy, Peristyle, Vieux la Romaine
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