THE wraps came off one of York Minster's most important statues - which has been restored to glory after experts figured out what it looked like before centuries of wind and rain destroyed many of the original features.

The intricate carving of St Peter is one of the biggest on the outside of the historic cathedral. But the Yorkshire weather had taken its toll and some of the details of the stonework were lost in time.

The seated figure was removed earlier this year as part of a programme to conserve or replace all the masonry around what is the largest expanse of medieval stained glass in Europe.

The statue was so badly eroded that stone carvers, academics and historians spent months not only researching who or what the figure would have been, but also how it may have looked.

The Minster's Superintendent of Works Rebecca Thompson said: "This is an iconic figure that sat in pride of place above an iconic window, so its importance as part of York’s history and York Minster’s appearance cannot be underestimated."

There were no detailed drawings of the original figure. So leading historians, archaeologists, theologians and academics used sketches and drawings to create a clay model before the carvers started work.

The figure was made at the Minster’s Stoneyard in Deangate, and designed by the Assistant to the Master Mason, Martin Coward using three blocks of stone imported from a French quarry.

It took nearly four months to complete. Each section was lifted from the work bench, transported across to York Minster, and hoisted on the exterior of the scaffolding.

It took a painstaking ten days for the craftsmen to make sure it was in the right place for the unveiling.

It marks the end of a crucial phase of the conservation work but residents will have to until 2016 - when the scaffolding comes down - to see the results.

The Very Reverend Vivienne Faull, Dean of York, said: “It is wonderful to have this figure reinstated to the cathedral named in his honour.

"Although most people know the building as York Minster, its full name is the Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of St Peter in York.”