The return of the Dying Gladiator

Conservation is at the heart of what we do - we work to keep places special forever, for everyone. The Dying Gladiator is a statue that has been missing from the water garden since the 1800s and now it's back!

Throughout 2018 and 2019 the team at Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal have been working towards raising funds to replace a Dying Gladiator statue which mysteriously disappeared from the water garden in the late 1800s. 

This is part of our conservation aim to restore this World Heritage Site to its 18th century heyday for visitors. We're gradually adding in details lost over the centuries and this includes the return of this iconic statue. 

What is the Dying Gladiator statue?

The Dying Gladiator is a Roman copy of an ancient Greek statue, and one of the most celebrated icons to have survived from antiquity. It appears in world famous gardens across the world, evoked and reproduced by sculptors and artists for several centuries.

The statue's return

With the generous support of visitors and the local community £82,000 has been raised to cast a new statue, which is now installed for visitors to enjoy at Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal. 

Installing the Dying Gladiator on his new plynth
Rupert Harris conservators installing the Dying Gladiator in Studley Royal water garden
Installing the Dying Gladiator on his new plynth

You can see the new statue next to Neptune, Bacchus and the Wrestlers alongside the moon ponds of the water garden, so that it appears as it once did, back in the 18th century.

Putting the finishing touches on the new statue
Installing the Dying Gladiator Statue in Studley Royal water garden
Putting the finishing touches on the new statue

Archaeological surveys took place to determine the exact location of the original statue and the original foundations were found. We worked with expert statue conservators, Rupert Harris Conservators, to cast the new piece before painting it white to match the other statuary in the water garden, reflecting how they all visually appeared in the 18th century.

The Dying Gladiator, restored to Studley Royal water garden
The Dying Gladiator statue in place at Studley Royal water garden
The Dying Gladiator, restored to Studley Royal water garden

Why places matter

We've always believed that places are important and have a powerful effect on us. We want Fountains Abbey to be a significant place to our visitors, to help them connect with nature, our rich history and culture here in North Yorkshire. There's no doubt that Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal is a site that's worth looking after, which was recognised on a global scale when it was granted UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 1986.

Thank you for your support

Thank you

We couldn't do it without you

Every time a National Trust member shows their card on their way in, it directly generates a payment which contributes to our work here at Fountains Abbey.

 The classical statues at Studley Royal water garden after restoration work

Our Conservation Work 

Managing the impact of flooding, adapting to climate change, conservation work, sharing the stories of this amazing place are all key priorities in the work we do. Here are some of the projects that have been going on.

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