Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Title Mosaic from Aldborough, Boroughbridge, North Yorkshire: the Problem of Its Authenticity
Author email
About author Larionov, Andrei Iosifovich — Ph. D., member of Russian Union of Artists, professor at The Saint Petersburg State Art and Industry Academy named after A. L. Stieglitz. Solianoi per., 13, 191028 St. Petersburg, Russian Federaion
In the section Classical Antiquity and the World around Hellas DOI10.18688/aa155-1-12
Year 2015 Volume 5 Pages 127136
Type of article RAR Index UDK 7.035 Index BBK 85.14; 63.3(0)32

Roman floor mosaic known as the “Capitoline Wolf and the Twins” discovered in 1842 at Lonsdale’s farm of Boroughbridge near Aldborough in North Yorkshire, is discussed in the article. Another piece — known as “The Aldborough Lion mosaic” that depicts a lion under a tree — was discovered at the same farm in 1832. Scholars are positive about its authenticity. Though in size and composition the two mosaics are identical, a detailed study of both comes across certain problems. The owner of the farm — a former mason, sold the “Wolf and the Twins” mosaic to the Literary and Philosophical Society of Leeds 15 years after the find. Caused by such a delay, suspicions around authenticity of Lonsdale’s mosaic grew. H. E. Smith, the author of “Reliquiae Isurianae: the Remains of the Roman Isurium” published it in a Supplement (1867). What makes the case twice suspicious is that the farm owner was a mason who managed the instruments identical to those used by a mosaic-maker. As a professional, not only could he just reassemble the blocks, but was also able to invade the original mosaic-maker’s sphere. In Russian literature the problem of the mosaic’s authenticity has never been discussed before.

It is worth mentioning that terms used for mosaic-maker’s instruments are different in Russian and West European languages. Since the appearance and the function of the instruments have been remaining the same during twenty three centuries, one could argue for the usage of the words taglione and tagliolo from antiquity till nowadays. Standardized terminology used in decorative arts has a long history, and gives better understanding to artists and craftsmen from different countries. Twin term «taglione — tagliolo» simply transliterated for Russian-speakers is much more convenient in work at any mosaic workshop. 

Reference Andrei Larionov. Mosaic from Aldborough, Boroughbridge, North Yorkshire: the Problem of Its Authenticity. Actual Problems of Theory and History of Art: Collection of articles. Vol. 5. Eds: Svetlana V. Maltseva, Ekaterina Yu. Stanyukovich-Denisova, Anna V. Zakharova. St. Petersburg, NP-Print Publ., 2015, pp. 127–136. ISSN 2312-2129.
Publication Article language russian
  • Chubova A. P. Iskusstvo Evropy I–IV vekov (The Art of Europe in the 1st–4th centuries AD). Moscow, Iskusstvo Publ., 1970. 274 p. (in Russian).
  • Cosh S. R. Introduction. Mosaic. ASPROM, 2011, vol. 38, pp. 3–4.
  • Cosh S. R. Roman mosaics on display. Mosaic. ASPROM, 1999, vol. 26, p. 13.
  • Dunbabin K. M. D. Mosaics of the Greek and Roman World. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press Publ., 1999. 357 p.
  • Jessop C. M. Tessellated pavement. The Gentleman’s Magazine, 1862, Vol. II, p. 614.
  • Larionov A. I. Iskusstvo antichnoi napol’noi mosaiki (The Art of Antique Floor Mosaic). Saint Petersburg, Publishing house named after N. I. Novikov, 2014. 480 p. (in Russian).
  • Ling R. Notes. Venison and Wolf again. Mosaic. ASPROM, 1984, no. 10. pp. 17–19.
  • Neal D. S. Observations on the Micklegate Bar, York, and Wolf and Twins Mosaic, Aldborough, N. Yorks. Mosaic. ASPROM, 1983, no. 9, pp. 3–4.
  • Neal D. S., Cosh S. R. Roman Mosaics of Britain, Vol. I. Northern Britain Incorporating the Midlands and East Anglia. London, The Society of Antiquaries Publ., 2002. 415 p.
  • Seleznev V. I. Izraztsy i mosaiki. Monumental’naia emalevaia zhivopis’ (Glazed Tiles and Mosaics. Monumental Enamel Painting). Saint Petersburg, K. L. Ricker’s Publ., 1896. 80 p. (in Russian).
  • Smith H. E. Reliquiae Isurianae: the Remains of the Roman Isurium, now Aldborough, near Boroughbridge, Yorkshire. London, I. Russell Smith [and others] Publ., 1852. 62 p.
  • Urban S. The Gentleman’s Magazine, and Historical Chronicle from July to December 1811, Vol. 81, part II. London: John Nichols and Son, 1811. 312 p.
  • Witts P. The Aldborough Wolf and Twins Mosaic: Roman or Victorian? Yorkshire Roman Antiquities Section (RAS) of the Yorkshire Archaeological Society, 1996, no. 13, pp. 18–21.