Important carving which sailed with Nelson returns to the Scilly Isles

Nelson's ship the HMS Colossus suffered an ignominious fate in 1798 when it sank after running aground. That included a 3.3m (11ft) tall elm wood carving of a man in neo-classical dress, thought to have stood at the stern of the boat.

Discovered in 2002, the carving has been undergoing restorative work, but will now travel back to the Scilly Isles to be displayed as part of a collection of figureheads known as Valhalla, on the island of Tresco.

Maritime historian and author Richard Larn has described the figure as being, for Britain, 'probably one of the most important historic carvings that has been recovered from a shipwreck, it is top of the league in this country'.

The HMS Colossus figurehead will probably be shown in a glass case, unlike the other carvings of Valhalla as they were preserved on land and do not need the same precautions taken to keep them from deteriorating.

The HMS Colossus on which the figurehead stood is obviously not to be confused with the one which fought at Trafalgar, but she did take part in the Battle of Cape St Vincent, a British victory against a significantly larger Spanish fleet.

Collectors interested in memorabilia from that time may be interested to know that a rare letter written by Napoleon to the Duc de Feltre is currently available.


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