A doorstep gathering moss outside a couple’s home has been identified as a rare Buddhist heirloom – which is expected to fetch £50,000 at auction.
The granite artefact was left outside Bronwen Hickmott’s house after her parents bought it from a tea planter who returned to Britain from Sri Lanka in the 1950s.
Bronwen inherited the 2.4m-long (8ft) stone from her mum and dad and ever since it has been used as a doorstep at her home in Exeter, Devon.
She and husband Mike say the large one-tonne stone – which they call ‘the pebble’ – has been gathering moss outside their house.
But the Hickmotts have now discovered the stone is actually a Buddhist temple step – up to 1,300 years old and worth about £50,000.
The couple, who are in the process of moving, discovered the heirloom was of ”great historical interest” after they showed a photograph to a Bonham’s auctioneer.
Alice Bailey, Bonhams head of Islamic and Indian art at Bonhams, said carvings on the museum piece ‘symbolise the four stages life, growth, energy, power and forbearance’.
The step is from the Anuradhapura period, between 400BC to 1017AD.
Sri Lanka’s ancient city of Anuradhapura is now a Unesco world heritage site.
The auction takes place in London on April 23.