Relief with St. Peter, England circa 10th century. Estimate £70,000-100,000.

LONDON - This carved relief of St. Peter shown clean shaven with tonsured head and wearing the apparel of a bishop is a rare example of early English stone carving at its finest. Incredibly, it was discovered by an amateur historian in 2004, marking the grave of none other than a stray cat called Winkle. It subsequently appeared in an article in The Times, in which it was described as being of ‘national importance’ by a leading authority on Anglo-Saxon sculpture.

It may originally have been a section of cross shaft, or part of a larger panel. The limestone is indigenous to the Somerset region where it was found. Whether it is an example of post-Conquest sculpture in the transitional Saxon/Norman times, or - as is more likely - it is a sophisticated rendering from an earlier period, remains open to debate. What is certain is that it is a rare survivor of English stone carving at its best.