An unusual brooch that has been handed down through generations of a Welsh family is expected to sell for thousands at auction.

The brooch, an intriguing relic showcasing a gryllus - an oddity of a creature with combined human and wild boar heads - has roots in Ancient Rome.

Owned by Helen Scaife's family for at least three generations, it has sat in a bedside drawer for decades.

Surprisingly, until very recently, the family was completely oblivious to its unique history and worth.

Ms Scaife happened upon its value purely by chance during a visit to TV's Antiques Roadshow in October 2023.

The revelation came from jewellery expert Geoffrey Munn, who appraised the brooch at £7,000.

The brooch was identified as an intaglio gryllus cameo brooch from the late 16th or early 17th century, likely originating from Italy and crafted in the Renaissance period more than 300 years ago.

Now, the brooch will go under the hammer on June 27 at Hansons Auctioneers with a guide price of £4,000 to £5,000.

Ms Scaife, a civil servant from Cardiff said: "My friend got tickets for the Antiques Roadshow and invited me to go with her.

"I immediately thought of the brooch because we have always been curious as to what it was as we hadn't seen anything like it.

"When Geoffrey Munn said how much it was worth I said, ‘It's been sitting in a drawer for so long, we haven't known anything about it so I'm quite overwhelmed, to be honest.'"

The brooch depicts a gryllus, a creature that dates back to the Ancient Roman timesThe brooch depicts a gryllus, a creature that dates back to the Ancient Roman times (Image: Hansons, Mark Laban)

The brooch has been with the family since the 19th century.

"My mother, Margaret Craddock, inherited it from her mother and she inherited it from her grandmother.

"My grandmother was born in 1909 and it's definitely been in the family since before then."

She added: "It's a strange object to have gifted anyone."

Helen Smith, head of jewellery at Hansons Auctioneers, said: "What a find!

"I was thrilled when Helen got in touch.

"The brooch is a miniature work of art, extraordinary and beautiful.

"It’s so rare, I’ve never handled an example like it before."

Avid collectors will likely be captivated by its mythical depiction and intricate craftsmanship.

In a message of encouragement to other hopeful antiquarians, Ms Smith said: "For any jewellery connoisseur this brooch is exceptional."

The sale of the unusual brooch is set to take place at the June 27 Fine Art Auction at Hansons Auctioneers.