AN important ancient Egyptian statue – described as one of the finest of its kind in the UK – has been identified thanks to a review of collections held in local museums in Scotland.

The limestone statue has been at Montrose Museum since 1837, but little was known about it or its subject or where it came from until the review ancient Egyptian and East Asian collections.

It was identified by curators as being an “exquisite example” of the Ptolemaic period, dating back to about 332–30BC).

The statue depicts a female temple musician called Meramuniotes.

An inscription across its back has been fully translated for the first time and tells of her family, her role in the temple and her wishes for the afterlife.

Statues of her family members can be found in Cairo, Turin and London. The statue was donated to the Montrose museum by Dr James Burnes, a relative of Robert Burns.

It will be displayed as part of Discovering Ancient Egypt, a touring exhibition from National Museums Scotland which opens at Montrose Museum on Friday.

Assistant curator Dr Daniel Potter: “This statue is one of the finest of its type in the UK. Not only it is beautifully carved but it shares an amazing connection with Montrose.”

It is believed Burnes collected the statue while travelling back to Scotland through Egypt in 1834, after working as a doctor in India.

Museum officer, Caroline Taylor, said: “We are delighted that we will have the chance to showcase the statue of Meramuniotes and highlight her story.”