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Roman Mosaic and Hypocaust

Exterior view of the new Hypocaust building in Verulamium Park.

The new Hypocaust building in Verulamium Park.

Our exciting new building, housing the hypocaust and mosaic floor in Verulamium Park, has now opened. Just a short walk from the museum, it opens up this part of our heritage to many more children and adult visitors.

It brings to life the scale and magnificence of a major town house from Verulamium. In an age when we are all used to the comfort of central heating the Hypocaust Project displays one of the first heating systems to be installed in this country.

The Hypocaust mosaic.

The Hypocaust mosaic.

The 1800 year old hypocaust and its covering mosaic floor were uncovered during excavations in Verulamium Park in the 1930's by Sir Mortimer & Tessa Wheeler.

It was decided to leave these in their original Roman location where they formed part of the reception and meeting rooms of a large town house. The preserved section was part of a suite that originally extended almost twice the surviving length of the room.

What is a hypocaust?

Roman hypocaust systems allowed hot air to circulate beneath the floor and through the walls of buildings. Floors were raised on brick columns (pilae) or, as in this case, trenches were cut below the floor to allow the hot air through. Part of the mosaic has collapsed into the trench below.

The mosaic covering the hypocaust was made of tesserae (small cubes) of cut stone or tile. These were set into a thin layer of fine mortar which was spread over a concrete floor. The tesserae were grouted with mortar and polished with abrasive stones. The floor may have been polished with beeswax to enhance the colours.

Opening Hours

1st April - 30th September Mon - Sat 10.00 - 4.30, Sun 2 - 4.30.

1st October - 31st March Mon - Sat 10.00 - 3.45, Sun 2 - 3.45

Entry is free

Fund raising for this project was carried out by St Albans Museums and Galleries Trust.