Historic sword stolen from Isle of Canna museum

A mystery theft on a small Scottish island reads like the plot of a long-lost Agatha Christie novel.

Picture: SWNS
Picture: SWNS

The whodunnit has all the ingredients typically faced by the fictional sleuth: an idyllic setting, an isolated, close-knit community, and a sudden disappearance.

Police have appealed for help from the public after a two-handed historic broadsword was stolen from a museum on the Isle of Canna in the Inner Hebrides. Canna, situated in the Small Isles, has just 18 residents.

The 17th century weapon boasts a double-edged blade, a wooden grip and a stamped fleur de lys design.

The 7ft long claymore was taken from Canna House some time between 6-9 June.

Police said there was no sign of forced entry to the National Trust for Scotland (NTS) property as they appealed for information from anyone who visited during that period to get in touch.

Constable Neil Davies said: “Incidents like this are extremely unusual in the Small Isles and I can assure people we are working to establish what has happened to the sword.

“We would like to speak to anybody with information which could help with our inquiries.

“There is no indication that entry was forced to the museum, so anybody who was at Canna House over this period may have information which could assist us.”

The island – which is renowned for its seabirds, including puffins, razorbills and Manx shearwaters – has been in the care of NTS since 1981 when it was gifted to the organisation by Gaelic scholar John Lorne Campbell, who lived there with his wife, Margaret Fay Shaw.

The house, built in the 1860s in the style of a Victorian suburban villa, also holds a nationally important archive of Gaelic culture and language and a unique collection of butterflies and moths.

Alan Rankin, NTS operations manager for the islands, said: “We are very concerned that this significant piece … appears to have been stolen. It’s been an important part of the house’s rich and unique collection for decades.

“We are doing all we can to support the police with their inquiries and would urge anyone with any information to contact Mallaig Police Station.”

The theft comes almost two years to the day when police started investigating the first crime on the remote island in more than 50 years after thieves emptied the shelves of island’s only store.

Sweets, toiletries, batteries and even hand-knitted bobble hats made by the shop’s manager were taken from the community-run shop. The unlocked community shop was run on an honesty box system.

The theft involved only £200 worth of goods. But locals said they were “gutted” as the last reported crime before that was in the 1960s.

Canna is just over four miles long and one mile wide. It has no mains electricity and instead relies on diesel generators. It attracts around 10,000 visitors a year.