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Last Updated: Wednesday, 31 January 2007, 06:55 GMT
Caesars return to castle heights
Caesar bust being moved at Powis Castle. Photo: Paul Highnam
The busts have to be strapped up prior to being lifted
Historic marble busts of Roman emperors are being returned to pride of place at a national trust property after 50 years on the ground floor.

The busts, including Claudius, Augustus and Nero, at Powis Castle, in Welshpool, were bought by the Herbert family in Italy in the 17th Century.

They were taken from the castle's Long Gallery in the 1950s amid fears their weight was too much for the wood floor.

The gallery's floor has been strengthened to take the eight busts.

A team of four National Trust "conservators," a structural engineer, an architect, a team of builders, and a crane are taking three weeks to complete the 20,000 project.

The busts each weighing 150kg (330lbs) are being lifted from a courtyard up to the gallery through a window.

Floorboards in the Long Gallery had been reinforced with steel joists and bearer plates to take the extra weight of the busts.

The Herbert family, who have lived at Powis Castle since Elizabethan times, bought a total of a dozen busts as souvenirs during their trips to Italy.

Caesar bust being moved at Powis Castle. Photo: Paul Highnam
Moving each bust and its pedestal takes about half a day

The collecting of such busts became popular in the 18th Century for people on a "grand tour" of Europe.

Italy was one of the main destinations, and marble sculpture was very much sought after by the wealthy art collectors.

Margaret Gray, the National Trust's House Manager at Powis Castle, said: "The intention is to make this yet another reason to visit Powis Castle.

"It is not just a matter of restoring a historical scheme, but it will introduce a greater sense of symmetry and rhythm to the gallery, and render it more individual and idiosyncratic given the contrast between the scale of these splendid, heroic-sized sculptures of the Caesars and the gallery itself."

Powis Castle opens to the public from 17 March.

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