A GROUP of 89 items from the Castle Howard collection in North Yorkshire have been acquired for the nation including Roman portrait sculptures, figures of gods and mythical characters.

Highlights are a head of the satyr Silenus crowned with ivy leaves, dating from the second-century AD, a sculpture of a boy on a goat and a first century AD portrait of a middle-aged man with sunken cheeks and an “intense stare” identified as Cato the Elder or Younger.

The works were acquired through the Acceptance in Lieu Scheme and allocated to the National Museums Liverpool to remain on show at Castle Howard.

Most were assembled by Henry Howard, Fourth Earl of Carlisle, during the early 18th century on his Grand Tour. Other pieces were acquired by his son, Frederick, the fifth earl, also from Continental travels.

Castle Howard regards them as an excellent example of the collecting practices of British aristocrats and travellers of the period. The collection was already considered exceptional in the 18th century and remains a highly important group of Roman sculpture today.

John Glen, Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism, said: "I am pleased that through the Acceptance in Lieu scheme this diverse collection – the largest acquisition of its type under the scheme – will remain on public display at Castle Howard for years to come."