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Last Updated: Friday, 6 June, 2003, 18:06 GMT 19:06 UK
Experts to repair 'faeces fossil'
A Viking
The Viking fossil is a key attraction at the museum
Archaeologists are carrying out one of their most delicate projects to date - the careful restoration of 1200-year-old human faeces.

Measuring 20cm by 5cm, the exhibit is thought to be the largest fossilised human excrement ever found.

But despite surviving for well over 1,000 years, the Viking relic was broken into three pieces during a recent school visit to its home, the Archaeological Resource Centre (Arc) in York.

Now team member Gill Snape, a student from the University of Bradford, has the unenviable task of restoring the artefact to its former glory.

But despite admitting she has "never done anything quite like this before", the 21-year-old told BBC News Online it was not quite the revolting job people assumed.

"It's rock hard, it doesn't smell and it's certainly not squishy," said Ms Snape.

Centrepiece attraction

Museum chiefs are desperate to see their star exhibit glued back together because it is popular with the schoolchildren that make up a large percentage of their visitors.

"The kids loved it," Ms Snape added.

"We've even had thank you letters saying 'thank you for showing us the poo'."

After it is delicately glued back together, Ms Snape said the fossil would be mounted on perspex for visitors to "fully appreciate its glory as the centrepiece of the Arc".

And she had a message for anyone who doubted the impressive stature of the item, which was discovered in 1972 on land now occupied by Lloyds TSB Bank in York.

"It's huge - and bear in mind it's shrunk since it was deposited," she added.

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