A buyer is being sought for a seal – commissioned for Dunfermline Abbey by Robert the Bruce – which otherwise faces exportation
A seal commissioned by Robert the Bruce, the medievel king of Scotland, is at risk of exportation unless a buyer can be found to match its £151,250 price tag.
The one-of-a-kind artefact, which was authorised by Robert I in 1322 and used to seal documents by Dunfermline Abbey as proof of its authority and endorsement by the king, is in danger of being removed from the UK without a successful bidder.
As a result, Culture Minister Ed Vaizey has placed a temporary export bar on the two-part bronze seal to delay its removal from the UK and boost its chances of securing a buyer.
He 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.”
Vaizey says he took the decision to defer granting an export licence for the seal matrix pair following a recommendation by the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (RCEWA), administered by The Arts Council.
The RCEWA made its recommendation on the grounds that it was of great value for the study of medieval goldsmith work and sigillography and the re-establishment of Scottish institutions under Robert the Bruce.
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 upper part of the seal, which is extremely rare, is engraved with St Margaret, Dunfermline Abbey’s founding saint, and the lower part bears the royal arms of Scotland.
Its inscription translates as ‘Robert, by the Grace of God, King of the Scots’ and, according to historians, is of outstanding significance for the study of medieval Scotland, and medieval goldsmiths’ work.
The decision on the export licence application for the seal matrix pair will be deferred for a period ending on 21 June inclusive.
This period may be extended until 21 September inclusive if a serious intention to raise funds to purchase the seal matrix pair is made at the recommended price of £151,250.
For more information, contact the RCEWA secretariat on 0845 300 6200.