AN 800-year-old Figure of Christ - which originally belonged to the monks of St Mary’s Abbey in York - has returned to the city for the first time in nearly two centuries.

The gilded and enamelled figurine, which survived the Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII, has been in Germany for almost 100 years.

But now York Museums Trust has been able to buy it and bring it back to York after it was put up for auction, at which it fetched 8,500 euros, and it has gone on display at the Yorkshire Museum.

The gilt copper figurine was made in Limoges, France and stands at 16cm high, said a trust spokesman.

“It has remains of enamel champlevé decoration and is embellished with stone settings on the crown, eyes and loincloth.”

He said the figurine was rediscovered in 1826 as plans were being drawn up for the museum to be built on the site of the abbey.

It disappeared for nearly 100 years before emerging in the collections of a German art collector in the 1920s, and the trust had been able to buy it with generous support from Arts Council England and the V&A Purchase Grant Fund.

He said the figure would be displayed alongside other new acquisitions and iconic objects such as the York Helmet and Gilling Sword, which had returned to York from a national tour.

Curator of archaeology Lucy Creighton said it was a "stunning example of 13th Century religious art" and few examples survived in such a complete state.

She said: “This alone would make it a very special object but to be able to trace its origins to St Mary’s Abbey where the Yorkshire Museum now stands, means it is an incredibly rare and extremely valuable find.

“It is a real thrill to be able to put it on display just a stone’s throw from where it would have been on show 800 years ago.”