A RARE Chinese bronze cannon is going under the hammer at an auction in Dorchester - with a starting bid of £24,000.

The Chinese Bronze Cannon, from the Qianlong dynasty, which is dated 1789, is being auctioned off by Duke's as part of the Asian Art collection on Wednesday, December 8.

The cannon is number 20 on the list and weighs in at 258kg and is 166cm long.

READ MOREFirst edition of The Hobbit fetches almost £60k at Duke's Auctioneers, Dorchester

A spokeswoman from Duke's said: "With a well paginated surface, the cannon bears inscription dating to the third month of the Qianlong 54th year (1789) Governors Cup from Guo Xing Fu - the merchant group.

"Guo Xing Fu was in charge of the maritime trade across southeast China, all foreign merchants bought Chinese export cargoes into Xiamen seaport during the turning point of the Ming and Qing dynasties, on a later wooden carriage."

READ MOREThe Long Journey by Frederick Cayley Robinson sold at Duke's Auctioneers, Dorchester, for £123.5k

According to Duke's, the cannon was acquired by a West Country military family in the early 20th century, thence by descent.

The cannon is estimated to sell between £40,000 to £60,000.

The auction will take place from 10.30am to 5.30pm.