Cat’s Grave Marker Saved for the Nation

With help from the Friends, The Museum of Somerset has become the proud owner of a 10th Century statue of St Peter. This was originally found by a man who took it home and used it to mark the grave of his cat. Later it was spotted in his garden at Dowlish Wake, near Ilminster, and recognised as being an important piece of sculpture. Experts have identified it as a piece of national significance and the British Museum was interested in acquiring it.

The statue was eventually purchased by a dealer and the gentleman then agreed to sell it to The Museum of Somerset. The Friends were able to initiate the purchase with a contribution of £500 and in turn this led to a successful application to three major charitable donors when the balance to £150,000 was raised.1954L14313_6SYR9The sculpture was probably part of an architectural frieze around an important religious building. Identification of the figure is confirmed by the Latin inscription SC[S PE]TRUS, which represents SANCTUS PETRUS. It is carved from oolitic limestone, which occurs widely in the area of south Somerset.

The statue is now on display in The Museum of Somerset, where it is an enormously important addition to the collection.

Dave Drury

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