There is a mystery in Brownfield, a rural town in Oxford County.

A side view of the mysterious bust dug up recently in Brownfield. Brownfield Historical Society photo

Digging with a backhoe behind an old house, an unidentified resident hit upon something strange about a foot under the surface: A marble bust that had obviously been there for quite awhile.

With a clean break at the neck, the bust is clearly of an older man with thinning hair. By any standards, it is well-done, looking more like something that would be dug up at a ruined Roman villa than a rural Maine backyard.

Nobody knows who it is, but the Brownfield Historical Society is on the case.

On its Facebook page, the society says the left side of the bust “appears to have taken a bullet or hammer impact, which may have also broken the head off the shoulders.”

“These happened prior to the head being buried,” it said. A few little scratches were added when the excavator hit it.

Some wondered if perhaps the bust is a lost work of Franklin Simmons, a famed sculptor who got his start in Lewiston, a possibility that is easy to address given the dearth of information about many of the pieces he made during the 19th century.

Nobody seems to know the story behind a marble bust dug up recently in the backyard of an old Brownfield house. Brownfield Historical Society photo

Nobody prominent ever lived in the old house, which dates to 1830, according to the society.

“It doesn’t appear that any of the previous owners of the house would have been affluent enough to have a statue made of them or to have purchased one for display in their home,” it said.

The society said one theory is the bust has a defect and was obtained as scrap, maybe stolen or bought at a sale.

The fellow who dug up the bust is not interested in publicity, the society said. The location of the house where the bust was found is also being kept under wraps.

Brownfield is just south of Fryeburg on the border with New Hampshire. It is best known for a 1947 fire that ravaged nearly every structure in town.

Anyone who might have helpful information can contact the Brownfield Historical Society through its Facebook page or website:

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