Police hunt after 200-year-old bibles stolen from church

Abercorn Church in South Queensferry
. Picture: Ron Leckie
Abercorn Church in South Queensferry . Picture: Ron Leckie
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Historic bibles thought to be around 200 years old have been snatched from a church by thieves.

The religious texts, owned by the Hopetoun family, were on loan at Abercorn Parish Church, near South Queensferry, when they vanished from the pulpit area some time between Sunday July 17 and Saturday July 23.

Police are now appealing for information in a bid to return the pair of coveted books to their distraught owners, and track down the criminals who took them.

Speaking on behalf of the Hope family, Lord Hopetoun said: “We are very distressed at the theft of these bibles.

“They have been on loan from my family to Abercorn Kirk for a long time and recently, the Kirk Session of which I am part, had reluctantly to take the decision to lock the church after a series of antisocial incidents.

“To be confronted now with the theft of these irreplaceable pulpit bibles is deeply sad.

“If anyone has any knowledge of their whereabouts, I would urge them to contact the police as they are of huge value to the Abercorn community.”

The books, which are of a high monetary value, are approximately two foot by one foot in size and are around five inches thick.

Each is bound with red leather and has distinctive brass plating on the corners.

Norman Work, councillor for the nearby Almond ward, said incidents of this nature were concerning for the local community.

He said: “This is very saddening to hear and I will support the police as much as possible.

“The bibles will probably be worth more historically, than monetary, to both the family and the local community.

“These incidents are concerning because it leads to churches being locked, rather than the local community having the freedom to visit when they like.”

Congregations have gathered at Abercorn Church for 1500 years - tradition also holds that St Ninian visited the site.

The church contains burial stones and cross shafts from the early centuries of worship and a blocked doorway on the south side of the building dates back to the 1100s.

The church’s current form dates to 1893.

Constable Andrew Young, based at Broxburn police station, said: “Both bibles hold considerable value not only in monetary terms but also have historic significance for the local community.

“We are extremely keen to recover these items and return them to the church as quickly as possible.

“I urge anyone who has information that can help us trace the bibles or who knows who took them to please get in touch with police on 101.

“Alternatively a report can be passed anonymously through the charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”

courtney.cameron@jpress.co.uk