A 2,000-year-old fragile Roman mosaic has been lifted and moved as part of Dorset County Museum’s multi-million-pound transformation.

Originally discovered in 1903, the mosaic – a design which consists of a head of Neptune, two dolphins and red finned fish – was repositioned and laid in the museum with the help of Thomas Hardy in December 1927.

It has been a firm favourite with visitors for the past 91 years.

To help preserve the mosaic during the museum’s £15 million expansion, it has been excavated, dismantled and removed by specialist conservators at Cliveden Conservation.

Watch a time lapse video of the excavation here

Dorset County Museum is closed until 2020 while it undergoes a major redevelopment.

Berenice Humphreys, senior projects manager at Cliveden Conservation said: “We were delighted to be given the opportunity to work on this mosaic with such a fascinating history behind it.

“It’s quite rare to work on a mosaic laid at such an early date rolled out as a carpet and set on a concrete screed. This presented a number of challenges to the team.”

The museum recorded the event in a unique time-lapse video which shows how the mosaic was excavated. Watch is at dorsetecho.co.uk

Ms Humphreys added: “We began with trials to further understand the construction, having looked through all the documentary evidence. We put together a methodology which combined careful numbering of the tesserae along the geometry to ‘break’ the mosaic into manageable sections; followed by the delicate chiselling out of this line of tesserae.

“These works were then followed by the use of heavy-duty metre long drill bits to separate the defined panels, supported on their own concrete rafts, from the coarse substrate below. The smallest section thus lifted weighed around 60kg, and the largest nearly 300kg.

“The museum environment was a pleasure to work in and we were made to feel very welcome. We look forward to being involved in the next stage of this mosaic’s journey.”

Measuring 13ft, 7in. the Romano-British pavement will now be preserved and repositioned in the new museum prior to its re-opening.

From Saturday, January 19 until Saturday, February 2, the museum is inviting families to join them for free mosaic themed activities at Brewery Square. Children and adults can learn more about the museum’s Roman mosaics and have go at creating their own.