Thursday, September 20, 2012

The trough in a Dorset back garden that turned out to be a Roman sarcophagus worth £50,000

A rare and beautifully carved Roman sarcophagus found overgrown by plants in a back garden is set to sell for more than £50,000.
An eagle-eyed antiques expert spotted a corner of what looked like a trough when he visited a property to look at some art indoors.

However, the expert spotted something in the garden - and fought through the undergrowth to reveal a 1,900-year-old marble sarcophagus. A rare and beautifully carved 2000 year old Roman sarcophagus that was discovered overgrown by plants in a Dorset garden could now sell for more than £50,000.
Guy Schwinge, from Duke's auction house in Dorchester, Dorset, also discovered a further treasure inside the house.

After rummaging around he happened upon an old auction catalogue from Duke's - and it showed his saleroom had sold the ancient coffin in 1913. It had remained at the Dorset house ever since, but the family had come to lose the knowledge of what it was.

Now this important lost treasure that has been dated to the second century AD is to go under the hammer again. The 7ft long sarcophagus was made in Italy for a high ranking official, contemporaneous with Emperor Hadrian. The decoration is centred by a pedimented entrance flanked by ionic columns, with the door slightly ajar. Further decoration includes laurel tied with a ribbon.

It is unclear when it was brought to the UK and its provenance goes back 100 years to when it was last sold. The sarcophagus was part of the collection of Sir John Robinson from Newton Manor in Swanage, Dorset, which Duke's sold. In 1913 the object was bought by the family that owns the house on the Dorset coast where it was recently found, but it is unknown what it sold for.

Robinson was one of the greatest art experts and connoisseurs of the 19th century.

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