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Saint's day as statue goes south

ONE of Runcorn's most treasured artefacts is to become the centrepiece of a major exhibition in the capital.

The St Christopher statue

ONE of Runcorn's most treasured artefacts is to become the centrepiece of a major exhibition in the capital.

The magnificent statue of St Christopher will be moved from its home at Norton Priory Museum to make its first journey outside the North West.

Packed in a specially created padded crate, the statue of the patron saint of travellers will make its own journey to Tate Britain in London.

There, it will become the main attraction in the Image and Idol exhibition, a showcase of hidden treasures from churches and cathedrals across England and Wales.

At twice life-size, the statue is one of the largest and most impressive sculptures surviving from the 14th century.

It depicts the bearded St Christopher in flowing robes carrying the Christ child on his shoulder and has been acclaimed as one of the finest medieval sculptures in the world.

At Tate Britain it will be displayed alongside a figure of St Jesse of slightly later date from Abergavenny ­ the only other statue of comparable scale.

Jon Marrow, senior keeper for Norton Priory Museum Trust, said: 'This is an important opportunity for the St Christopher statue to be seen outside the North West of England for the first time.

'The statue is a national treasure but it has never been as well known as it should be.

'Because it is tucked away in an area like Runcorn it has not come to the attention of as many scholars as it otherwise would have.

'The Tate's exhibition can change all this. Its determination to have the statue in the exhibition is recognition of its importance.'

The St Christopher statue was discovered in the late 60s when the Runcorn Development Corporation, which owned the land, carried out an excavation of the Norton Priory site.

It was transferred to Liverpool Museum for safekeeping before Norton Priory museum opened in 1981.

In late 1996 it was restored by the National Museum and Galleries on Merseyside, which owns the statue.

Mr Marrow added: 'Whoever made the statue was incredibly skilled.

'Sandstone is very brittle and sculpting it has been described as like carving out digestive biscuits.

'Something like this will steal the show.'


David Holmes
Chief News Reporter
David Norbury
Mike Fuller
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