Robert the Bruce seal faces export without buyer to match £151,000 asking price


An "irreplaceable" seal commissioned by Robert the Bruce could be exported from the UK unless a buyer can be found to match the asking price of more than £150,000.

The 14th century two-part bronze seal, used for customs documents by Dunfermline Abbey as proof of their authority and endorsement by Robert I, King of Scotland, is considered to be extremely rare and of outstanding significance.

A temporary export bar has been placed on the seal, authorised in 1322 by the Scottish king who defeated the English at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314, to give a buyer a chance to keep it in the UK by meeting the price of £151,250.

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey said: "This amazing artefact represents one of the few objects directly associated with Robert the Bruce's reign.

"Its departure would not only result in the loss of this irreplaceable item, but it would also strip us of the opportunity to learn more about this exceptional figure."

The upper part of the seal depicts St Margaret, Dunfermline Abbey's founding saint, and the lower part bears the royal arms of Scotland.

The bar on the export licence application has been put in place until June 21.

This period may be extended until September 21 if someone has come forward with a serious intention to raise funds to buy the seal at the recommended price.

The decision by Mr Vaizey to defer granting an export licence comes after a recommendation by the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (RCEWA).

RCEWA Member Leslie Webster said: "This remarkable and handsome seal-die is of national importance on several counts.

"It is closely linked to the charismatic figure of Robert the Bruce, and to the history and institutions of Scotland at a crucial time in its evolution as a nation.

"Its association with the royal abbey of Dunfermline sheds light on how the king acted out his authority, delegating the powers of the crown; and its outstanding quality may suggest the influence of French craftsmen."