A precious jewel discovered during the clear-out of a mansion house in Aberdeenshire has gone on public display for the first time.
The “Fettercairn jewel”, an elaborate gold and enamel pendant locket set, was purchased by the National Museum of Scotland after it went up for auction in London earlier this year.
Experts believe the previously unknown treasure, discovered in a closet off a library at Fettercairn House, in Aberdeenshire, could be linked to the famous Darnley Jewel and the Houe of Stuart.
It is one of the most important early pieces in the Queen’s Royal Collection, which is believed to have been commissioned by Lady Margaret Douglas, mother-in-law of Mary Queen of Scots.
The National Lottery and the Art Fund charity helped the museum meet the £236,500 cost of buying the jewel, which experts will now carefully examine and trace its history.
A bidding war over the fate of the jewel - described by the auctioneeers as an important rediscovery for the history of Scottish Renaissance jewellery - saw it go under the hammer for far more than its expected price of between £30,000 and £50,000.
Believed to protect its weather from lightning and plague, the jewel was part of a treasure trove of artefacts sold by the new owners of Fettercairn House, in Aberdeenshire.
More than 400 works of art went under the hammer less than a year after the sale of the sprawling Mearns property severed ancestral links dating back to the late 18th century.
The Forbes family collection, which spanned the 16th century to the present day, included work by the artists John Robert Cozens, Sir Henry Raeburn, Sir Thomas Lawrence and Allan Ramsay.
The Fettercairn jewel can now be viewed in the Kingdom of the Scots gallery at the Chambers Street museum.