What? That old thing? Bungalow's £30,000 doorstep
A 1,100-year-old temple stone used as a doorstep for years could fetch more than £30,000 at auction in April.
Bronwen Hickmott inherited the carved granite semi-circle, which is decorated with cows, lions, horses, elephants and birds, from her parents.
The stone was in her parents' house and she could not bear to part with it after they died and had it moved first with her to Bristol and then to her bungalow in Exeter.
Her loyalty has now been repaid after the discovery that what Mrs Hickmott and her husband Mike call "the pebble" is, in fact, a rare step from a Buddhist temple in Sri Lanka dating back more than 1,100 years.
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Originally from a Sinhalese temple in Sri Lanka's ancient city of Anuradhapura, the pre-Hindu step – described by experts as a "museum piece" – is one of only seven examples from the period.
Weighing three-quarters of a ton, it measures eight feet by four feet and is six inches thick. It would have graced the entrance to one of the great temples in the greatest monastic city of the ancient world, dating from the middle of the 5th century BC.
"As a child I used to walk around it reciting 'elephant, horse, lion and hump' after the animals carved in the stone," said Mrs Hickmott. "I also loved to run my fingers over the carvings."
It is expected to be the star lot at Bonhams on April 23.