A carved stone head hailing from County Londonderry that could date back to 200 BC fetched 26,000 euros at an auction in Dublin.
The head was unearthed by Ross Pinkerton in the Sperrin Mountains, near Claudy, in the late 1930s.
He found the stone head about 60 or 70 years ago when a stone wall was being repaired in the Claudy area. He saved it from being destroyed.
Accompanied by a letter from historian Dr Brian Lacy dating it between 200 BC and 200 AD, the head is said to be of great cultural importance.
“The human head represented the same sort of thing to the ancient Celt as the heart does to us,” Dr Lacy told BBC Radio Foyle.
“We symbolise in our culture the human heart as the seat of emotions and the human head was the same to the ancient Celts.
“And consequently all over western Europe, where the Celts lived in ancient times, the human head was carved and was preserved in various ways.”
Many imitations were carved in the 18th and 19th centuries, but Dr Lacy said he was very confident that this was the genuine article.
The head far exceeded its estimate price at a History, Literature, and Collectibles sale at Whyte’s Auctions in Dublin on Friday 23 April.