Forensic experts who exhumed a body from a Highland crypt - hoping it contained the remains of a 18th-century clan chief - believe they have found a bone to provide DNA.
Simon Fraser, the 11th Lord Lovat, was the last man beheaded at the Tower of London, in 1747, for supporting the Jacobite rebellion.
A team exhumed a headless body from Wardlaw Mausoleum at Kirkhill, near Inverness, earlier this month.
They established that the remains were of an elderly man -- which could point to the body being Lord Lovat.
But now scientists are hopeful that one bone might be in a strong enough position to provide DNA.
It could lead to the 270-year-old mystery of whether the remains are Lord Lovat, nicknamed the Old Fox, being cracked.
Erik Lundberg, of the Wardlaw Mausoleum Trust, said: “The best bone found, a sternum, gives us the best chance of getting a DNA sample. It is very exciting.
“This could help us to finally get a definitive answer.”
The bone is being analysed at a genetics centre in Cardiff.
The finding are expected to be revealed at a meeting in the Highlands next month.
The Old Fox was executed for backing Bonnie Prince Charlie, whose uprising ended with the Battle of Culloden in 1746.
Lovat’s body was buried under the floor of a chapel at the tower but, according to the Clan Fraser, was later taken by loyal supporters north to the Highlands and laid to rest at the family mausoleum at Kirkhill.
The Old Fox is known today by readers and TV audiences as the grandfather of Jamie Fraser, a character in the Outlander books and TV drama.
The mausoleum also holds the coffin plate for 11th Lord Lovat, which has long been detached from any casket. It is inscribed with the family crest and topped with a five pointed crown - the emblem of a dukedom which Lord Lovat had sought from Bonnie Prince Charlie in return for his support. Lord Lovat had earlier sent messages of support to both sides ahead of Culloden in 1746 . Infamous for his double dealings, Lord Lovat’s Jacobite sympathies were forged in the late 1600s in France but he was later to betray the cause after revealing the plan for the first uprising to Queen Anne’s government.