Robert the Bruce sword fetches £10,000
IT WAS commissioned by a 14th century nobleman in memory of the final battle waged by King Robert the Bruce's most trusted captain.
Then it passed down generations of the aristocratic Douglas family into the hands of Scots prime minister Sir Alec Douglas-Home. Now a "very rare" broadsword made to commemorate the carrying of Bruce's heart on crusade has fetched more than 10,000 at auction.
The historic weapon, which experts said represents a "fascinating link" in the history of Scotland and England, exceeded its estimate price at an auction of antique arms.
The silver-hilted broadsword dates from 1705, but features a much older Scottish blade, dated to the time of Bruce.
On its blade, an emblem pays homage to Sir James Douglas, who died while carrying Bruce's heart in 1330. Depicting a wild man with a heart on his left breast, the emblem features the inscription, For Strength In Stier This Heart I Bier" (for strength in battle this heart I bear). On the reverse it features a crowned Lion Rampant.
The exquisite silver handle is believed to have been added by a London swordmaker in 1705 for one of Douglas' descendents and the sword was passed down through the family.
Given an estimate of 7,000 to 10,000, the sword was eventually sold on Wednesday for 10,800 at Bonhams in London. It was bought, after a bidding war, by a private collector from Britain. The new owner, who wishes to remain anonymous, said simply: "It has gone to a Douglas."
It was unclear who had put the sword up for auction, but members of the Douglas-Home family said last night that they understood it had been sold by a relative.
David Williams, Bonhams' head of antique arms and armour, said yesterday: "We are very pleased with the result, but this is a very interesting sword and there was competition. This was a gentleman's sword.
"The inscriptions and heart referred to on the sword hark back to a famous journey of Sir James Douglas to the Holy Land with King Robert the Bruce's heart, which ended with Douglas's death fighting the Moors in Spain in 1330.
"The story of this crusade with the heart of Robert the Bruce became part of the Douglas family history and the heart on this sword recalls the actual earlier sword carried by James Douglas on the ill-fated crusade to the Holy Land, which ended in Moorish Spain. The heart has been incorporated in the Douglas badge ever since."
The tapering double-edged blade is believed to date from the 1300s, but its English silver hilt bears the mark of the famous London swordmaker Thomas Vicaridge, 1705.
Mr Williams said: "It was made in 1705, two years after King James VI came down to England. It is very rare and has a very fine English silver hilt."
At the heart of a crusade
Sir James Douglas was the son of Sir William Douglas the Hardy, who had been a supporter of William Wallace.
Educated in Paris, on his return to his homeland, he found an Englishman, Robert de Clifford, in possession of his estates.
Casting in his lot with Robert the Bruce, he soon created a formidable reputation for himself as a soldier and a tactician, playing a leading role at the battle of Bannockburn.
The English dubbed him "The Black Douglas" and he became something of a bogeyman, inspiring the lullaby, "Hush ye, hush ye, little pet ye. Hush ye, hush ye, do not fret ye. The Black Douglas shall not get ye."
He met his death in Spain while fulfilling Bruce's request that his heart be carried on a crusade.
Douglas is said to have spotted one of his knights surrounded, taken the silver casket with Bruce's embalmed heart and thrown it among the enemy, shouting: "I will follow thee or die."
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Wednesday 22 May 2013
Temperature: 3 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 23 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 5 C to 10 C
Wind Speed: 24 mph
Wind direction: North west