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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 February, 2005, 15:40 GMT
Duke's mummified cat goes on show
Mummified cat
The cat was buried to protect the building against rodents
A mummified cat unearthed in the grounds of the Duke of Bedford's estate is to go on show for the first time.

The creature, which is thought to be 300-years-old, was found preserved in the foundations at Woburn Abbey in 1915 when work was being carried out.

It goes on display at the Walter Rothschild Zoological Museum in Tring, Hertfordshire, from Monday.

Curator Richard Sabin said: "It was buried in the foundations to protect the building against rodents."

He added: "It is very likely that the cat was one of the estate mousers."

It had been buried in an air-tight brick container and a lack of humidity and bacteria helped preserve it.

Most found in cavity spaces

The exhibition explores natural mummification - where the body dries before it decomposes.

Becky Chetley from the Natural History Museum said: "Natural mummification is very common, probably a lot more common than people think.

"Roof spaces, cavity walls and in a lot of cases the foundations of peoples' houses are very, very dry.

"Most of the naturally mummified animals that we have in the collection have come from roof spaces."

It is one of many mummified creatures including a baboon, a crocodile and birds of prey which will go on display

The exhibition also explores why animal mummification was practised in ancient Egypt.

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15 Sep 04 |  Science/Nature

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