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Historic Ship's Figurehead Back On Display 26 June 2006

An historic ship’s figurehead has gone on display at the Nautical Museum in Castletown, after Manx National Heritage stepped in to preserve this piece of maritime history. Ship's Figurehead

The figurehead, from an unknown vessel, was washed ashore at Bride around 1895. It was previously on view inside the main gate at the Curraghs Wildlife Park, Ballaugh, before being gifted to Manx National Heritage last year.

Curator Matthew Richardson commented:

“This artefact will be familiar to many people who have visited the Wildlife Park over the years. Unfortunately, continuous exposure to the elements threatened the long term survival of the figurehead, so MNH undertook to care for it as part of the national collections. I am delighted to say that the figurehead is now back on public display, after some conservation treatment, undercover in the more appropriate surroundings of the Nautical Museum, alongside other artefacts illustrating the Isle of Man’s links to the sea.”

Figureheads on ships were used in antiquity in the Ancient Roman and Greek worlds, and continued in widespread use until the decline of sail at the end of the 19th Century. It was commonly believed by sailors that a female form, especially one in a state of undress, would pacify a raging sea, which is why most ship’s figureheads are female.

The ship’s figurehead can be seen at the Nautical Museum from 10am to 5pm daily. The Nautical Museum is part of the award-winning Story of Mann and is open until October.

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