IT IS almost 2,000 years old and was thought to have been lost forever, but now an ancient Roman bust is being preserved for future generations.

Conservationists have begun the painstaking process of restoring a marble carving of the Roman god Jupiter which has been rediscovered at Fountains Abbey, near Ripon.

The piece has been identified as part of the celebrated collection of the Earl of Arundel’s collection of antiquities from the classical world and is now being analysed by English Heritage at its archaeological store in Helmsley.

Susan Harrison, English Heritage Curator, said: “The condition of the bust is pretty good, but it does need cleaning and further research. Because it’s mentioned in 17th Century records, experts knew it existed, but they have searched for it in vain amongst the world’s collections of antiquities.

“But here it was all along, safe and sound and waiting to be rediscovered. We plan to do further work to determine the type of marble which will give us an indication of where in the Roman world it is originally from. It really is an impressive piece.”

According to Roman mythology, Jupiter was the most powerful of all the Gods and the Latin depiction of the Greek, God Zeus.