A LIFE size sculpture of the famously massive Craven Heifer is touring the county in celebration of the 160th anniversary of the Great Yorkshire Show.

The original Craven heifer - a Shorthorn - was bred in Bolton Abbey by the Rev William Carr in the early part of the 19th century. She was so large, she needed a special door, twice the normal size, to get in and out of the cowshed.

Measuring more than six feet at the shoulder, and more than 11ft long, she remains the largest cow ever shown in England.

And, despite living for just five years, she became a national sensation when in 1812 she was taken to Smithfields, London, a journey which took 73 days and during which time she was shown at numerous towns and cities along the way, with people paying money just to see her.

Several pubs were named after the famous heifer, and still exist today - in Skipton, Addingham, Kelbrook, Stainforth and in Ingleton.

As a fitting tribute and to mark the landmark anniversary of the Great Yorkshire Show - which takes place in July - show organisers The Yorkshire Agricultural Society commissioned Whitby based sculptor Emma Stothard to create a special piece of art.

Weighing in at more than half a tonne, and standing six feet tall, the sculpture -named the GYSheifer -was taken to Bolton Abbey for the official unveiling by the Duke of Devonshire and show director, Charles Mills.

The galvanised steel sculpture was then transported almost 50 miles on the back of specially designed wagon to Fulford, York, where it was met by police motorcyclists and escorted to Imphal Barracks - next to the site of the very first Great Yorkshire Show in 1838.

There, the sculpture was met by military, police, the Great Yorkshire Show team and school children in front of the original Coat of Arms of the 5th Dragoon Guards, the only historic remains of the Barrack Yard, where the first show was held.

Charles Mills, show director, said it had been a momentous start to the 160th anniversary celebrations and to the start of ticket sales for the even.

“The Craven Heifer was an iconic animal born and bred in the same era as the first Great Yorkshire Show and was the wonder of farmers across England. We want to take the GYS heifer on tour, just as the Craven Heifer did, so look out for her at a location near you or come and see her yourself at the show where she will be put in prime position on the President’s Lawn.”

The Duke of Devonshire said: “It’s been a pleasure to be invited to join the celebrations to mark the 160th Yorkshire Show. The historic of association of my family and the Bolton Abbey Estate to this local “celebrity”, the Craven Heifer, is well known. I was honoured to be President of the Great Yorkshire Show back in 1999: the show has a special place in our hearts and to bring these two Yorkshire icons together is tremendous.”

The sculpture itself took several months to complete and involved research with people from the Bolton Abbey estate and Margaret Chapman, chief cattle steward with the Great Yorkshire Show, whose family have been part of the event for more than a hundred years.

Sculptor, Emma Stothard, said it had been one of her most ambitious projects which had required hours of research with cattle expert, Margaret.

“We’ve poured over many paintings and different documents charting the Craven Heifer’s size. We wanted the Great Yorkshire Show heifer to be as lifelike as possible and it’s been exciting to bring the Craven Heifer back to life for everyone to get an idea of how big she really was,” she said.

North Yorkshire Police Chief Constable Dave Jones said: “The Great Yorkshire Show is a key date in our county’s calendar, and a celebration of rural communities. We were proud to support unveiling of the GYSheifer sculpture, and we are looking forward to taking part in this year’s show in July.”

The recreated heifer stands 6ft high, 4ft wide and 11ft long. It was created at Emma’s studio in Whitby before being galvanised in Bradford and powder-coated in Middlesbrough.

It is now go on tour, appearing at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park on Friday last week, and travelling around the region until its visit to Our Cow Molly Farm Shop in Sheffield on June 10.

On Saturday, May 26 it will be at Malton Food Lovers Festival; on Thursday, May 31 at Yummy Yorkshire, Huddersfield; on Saturday, June 2 at Wold Top Brewery, Driffield, and on Sunday, June 10 at Our Cow Molly Farm Shop, Sheffield.

The Great Yorkshire Show, Harrogate, is due to take place from Tuesday, July 10 to Thursday, July 12. More than 130,000 people are expected to visit the event over its three days. Some 8,500 animals will be on show, there will be around 1,200 trade stands and 2,000 competitions.

People are being encouraged to post their selfies with #GYSheifer on Twitter. The best picture from each location will win a family ticket - two adults and three children - worth £75 on the door, £65 in advance.