A Roman mosaic depicting a Mythical Chariot race with the hand of an Ancient Greek princess brought to light by archaeological excavations in southern England

  • Mosaic has been fully uncovered in the village of Boxford after it was initially discovered in a field in 2017

  • Archaeologist Matt Nichol, who worked on dig, said iconography on mosaic was 'second to none'

  • The mosaic is one of only three of its kind in the world and is 'totally unknown in Britain'

  • It depicts chariot race involving Greek god Zeus's Grandson, Pelops, racing to win hand of love interest Princess Hippodamia

A Roman mosaic depicting a mythical chariot race has been fully uncovered in a Berkshire village - and it could be one of Britain's most exciting archaeological discoveries. 

The 1,600-year-old mosaic, which was found in Boxford in 2017 but only fully uncovered recently, is one of only three of its kind in the world and is 'totally unknown' in Britain, experts said. 

It depicts a chariot race involving Greek mythological figure Pelops, who is racing to win the hand of love interest Princess Hippodamia.

Archaeologist Matt Nichol, who worked on the dig, said the imagery and iconography on the mosaic, which is six metres long, was 'second to none'.

He said: 'There's a real buzz and excitement on this project, I've never seen that before on any project that I've worked on.' 

Those who worked on the dig were mainly volunteers from the Boxford History Project.

The mosaic was found in a field in the village two years ago but was then re-covered with soil to allow farmers to use the field. 

Joy Appleton, the group's chairman, told MailOnline: 'In 10 days only, the volunteers managed to clear the entire mosaic area.

'We have a passion for understanding our heritage and this is totally unknown in Britain. It is a rare thing.'

On Saturday, the group held an open day for members of the public to view the find and Ms Appleton said there had been more interest than she expected. 

'We had nearly 3,000 people turn up,' she said. 

'It is frightening in one sense. They must have come a long way from all over the country.' 

'We have been told that there is no point removing it because it is too big for museums,' Ms Appleton said. 

'The local community want to keep the mosaic where it is.'

'It would cost millions to open it up.' 

Anthony Beeson, an expert on Greek and Roman architecture, explained the story depicted on the mosaic.  

Explaining the story depicted in the mosaic, Mr Beeson said: 'The pavement shows Bellerophon and Pegasus but the main action is the story of Pelops and his race to win the hand of the Princess Hippodamia.

'The king, Oenomaus, having been told that his future son-in-law would bring about his death, made all contestants race him in a chariot but handicapped them by putting the princess in the vehicle with them. 

'The losers were decapitated and their heads displayed.

'Pelops persuaded a former lover Myrtilus and the King's chariot master to substitute a wax lynch pin and the king was killed when the wheels flew off.' 

'Pelops thereby won but killed Myrtilus who cursed his lineage and brought about the curse of the Pelops. 

'The king's funerary games are said to be the origin of the Olympics.'