A NINETEENTH century table inlaid with fossil poo has been recreated for the descendants of the original owner.

The table belonging to William Buckland, who was the first professor of geology at Oxford University and was friends with fellow fossil collector Mary Anning, is on display at Lyme Regis Museum.

The table is inlaid with circular slices of coprolite or fossil excrement.

Buckland and Anning were the first to identify coprolites in the 1820s and the unusual table featuring them was donated to the museum by the professor’s family in 1920.

Kate Hebditch said she was approached by one of William’s descendants, Erik Buckland from Canada, last year when she was acting curator of the museum, asking if he could purchase the table.

She said: “I explained it was one of the star exhibits and suggested he got a replica made instead.

“Little did I know how difficult it would be to find similar coprolites.”

Kate said she contacted fossil collectors in Edinburgh, as that was the area where the coprolites for the original table came from, but was told they were extremely rare these days and eventually she managed to track some down on the internet.

Beth Werrett of Wiltshire County Council’s conservation and museums advisory service then made an inlay panel out of the sliced and polished nodules.

She said: “It’s a lovely tactile surface.

“I became very fond of Buckland and his extraordinary table.”

The next stage of the process saw Dorchester furniture designer and maker Jonathan Matthews spend around 60 hours creating a replica table to house the coprolites.

He said: “It’s one of the most unusual commissions I’ve had.

“The original at the museum didn’t have its base, so I’ve made a pedestal of the sort that was common in early Victorian times.”

Jonathan added: “I’ve never done anything when I’ve set fossils into a table top before so that’s definitely a first.”

Kate said she was delighted with the finished product and was confident the descendants of William Buckland would be pleased with it.

She said: “Considering what it’s made of, we’ve made a beautiful object.

“It will amaze and entrance a future generation of Bucklands when it arrives in Canada.”