ANTIQUE hunters from across the UK descended on Whitchurch last week as a second century Roman marble bust sold for staggering £27,000.

The auction, at Trevanion Auctioneers and Valuers, in Station Road, was the firm's highest-grossing start to a year since its opening in 2014, with the bust selling for much higher than anticipated price to a London dealer.

Ashley Jones, associate director at Trevanion, says the bust, depicting the top half of a torso with a detail draped tunic, is an example of Greek and Roman artefacts currently highly sought after.

"This piece is reflective of the dominant presence that portraiture held in the Roman Empire," said Ashley.

"This particular piece is believed to date from circa 2nd century, and despite not supporting a head, it is an important representation of its period."

Other items sold on the day which performed well included a trapezophoros which sold for £6,700 and a carved headstone which sold for £4,000.

Ashley added: "Classical sculpture, especially Greek and Roman marbles, are incredibly sought after in the current market, both for their decorative merit and their historical importance.

"We have seen that the demand for such pieces from seasoned dealers and new, emerging millennial collectors has soared over recent years, the results from our auction reinforce this."

Other big sellers on the day including paintings from the 16th and 17th centuries.

One notable painting up for sale was a copy of a portrait of King Henry VIII painted by the artist Hans Holbein, which sold for £5000.

Other paintings which sold included one depicting a lady and gentleman in the manner of Sir Anthony van Syke which sold for £3,200 and another one which sold for £2,200.

Collections of European wooden carvings, many dating from the early 15th century were on display.

One 15th century carved pine niche sold for £6,500 to a Welsh collector and a 15th century carved misericords made £2,800.

"Misericords are a curious part of European history," said furniture valuer Ian Woodward.

"They originated in 11th century Germany as a small ledge and can be found attached to the bottom of the folding seats of a church’s choir stall, to provide a seating aid for elderly or infirm monks who had to stand for periods of long prayer."

At the heart of the auction was the Alison Barker estate, a collection of art and antiquities from a long-term collector from Sussex.

“Alison was an incredible woman – she was a successful barrister, and a lifetime collector of the curious, the carved and the archaic,” says managing partner and founder Christina Trevanion.

"It has been an honour and a privilege to handle and catalogue the contents of her home, in her memory.”