A MYSTERY bidder intends to raise £150,000 to stop a rare seal commissioned by Robert the Bruce, King of the Scots, being sold abroad.
The artefact was being kept in the UK by ex-Culture Minister Ed Vaizey, who placed an export bar on the bronze seal lasting until June 21
Since this date, this cherished piece of Scots history has been free to be sold overseas, unless a British buyer is able to offer the £151,250 asking price.
Now, a mystery buyer is reported to have indicated an intention to raise the funds.
A spokeswoman for the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of
Cultural Interest (RCEWA) said that an extension of the export ban was now “under review”, but was unable to confirm or deny that a bid had been made.
Authorised in 1322 by Robert the Bruce, the seal was used to secure customs documents by Dunfermline Abbey as proof of their endorsement by the King.
In March, when the seal was put on sale, Culture Secretary Ed Vaizey said: “This amazing artefact represents one of the few objects directly associated with Robert the Bruce’s reign.
“Its departure would not only result in the loss of this irreplaceable item, but it would also strip us of the opportunity to learn more about this exceptional figure.”
RCEWA member Leslie Webster said: “This remarkable and handsome seal-die is of national importance on several counts; it is closely linked to the charismatic figure of Robert the Bruce, and to the history and institutions of Scotland at a crucial time in its evolution as a nation.
“Its association with the royal abbey of Dunfermline sheds light on how the king acted out his authority, delegating the powers of the crown; and its outstanding quality may suggest the influence of French craftsmen.”
The Scottish Government deny that they have instigated the mystery bid for the seal.
A spokesman said: “DCMS [Department of Culture, Media and Sport] has confirmed the issue of exporting the seal is still under consideration. National institutions have not prepared a bid for the seal at this time.”
Sean Clerkin, of the Scottish Resistance organisation, who have campaigned for the Bruce Seal to remain in Scotland, said: “It’s great news that the export ban has been extended to allow a bidder to make an offer.
“This is a vital piece of Scottish history and should be kept here in Scotland and be available for the public to see.”
Robert the Bruce was King of the Scots from 1306, until his death in 1329.
He led Scotland during the First War of Independence against the English, and established De facto independence in 1314 at the Battle of Bannockburn.
He fought alongside Scottish cultural icons such as William Wallace – made famous by the 1995 film Braveheart – and James Douglas.