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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 September 2005, 06:04 GMT 07:04 UK
Missing Mars statue sparks hunt
Chirk Castle, picture courtesy of National Trust
The statue of Mars was once a familiar sight at Chirk Castle
Historians have appealed for help in solving the decades-old mystery of a missing one-tonne lead statue at a castle in north Wales.

Mars, the Roman God of war, used to guard the entrance of Chirk Castle but disappeared sometime after 1911.

He stood with counterpart, Hercules, for 50 years until they were separated.

Hercules was found in a nearby wood in 1983 and brought back to the castle by helicopter. Experts have now renewed the hunt for the 12ft tall Mars.

Mars was taken and put on a plinth in what became known as, and still is, Mars Wood
Emma Hegarty, Chirk Castle

Historian Nigel Davies said: "When you think of the sheer size of it and the weight, and that it has gone for a walk without anyone noticing. But this is within living memory so someone may know something."

Mr Davies said it was possible the statue of the god of war was used to help in another confrontation - as scrap metal in World War I or II.

"But then why take one (statue) and not the other? If by some miracle it was found, it would be absolutely fantastic."

The appeal to the public is being made as part of Chirk's Castle at War events. Visitors to the National Trust property will be told the statues were first erected almost 300 years ago.

Mars and Hercules were copies of classical statues from Greece and Rome. They were removed in 1770 after standing next to each for half a century.

Statues separated

The steward at the time recorded: "Hercules and Mars driven out of their Court and turned Back to Back... they have been very near neighbours to each other upwards of 50 years, and have not in all that time had an angry word with one another, a rare instance of friendship indeed."

Hercules, which was found in 1983, can be seen in the lime avenue to the east of the castle.

Chirk Castle property manager Emma Hegarty said: "Mars was taken a reasonable distance from the castle and put on a plinth in what became known as, and still is, Mars Wood."

Mrs Hegarty said Mars was still there in 1911 but there was no other record of him until 1960, where it is stated, he was missing.

The only remnants which exist of Mars are the original 1770 plinth and a rubbing of an engraving.

"We are appealing to anybody for any information they can give us on the whereabouts or fate of Mars," said Mrs Hegarty.




SEE ALSO:
Castle's medieval Christmas
07 Dec 03 |  North East Wales
Castle auction raises 1.4m
22 Jun 04 |  North East Wales
Music heard again after 400 years
17 Mar 05 |  North East Wales
Aristocrats vacate 'busy' castle
22 Mar 04 |  North East Wales


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