Scotland Fears Loss Of Popular Artifacts To Britain

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Scotland risks losing the biggest collection of Jacobite art and artefacts in Britain, a national treasure trove that is potentially a major tourist draw, it is being warned.

There are more than 300 items in the Drambuie collection of Jacobite art, ranging from a hand-written letter from Prince Charles Edward Stuart and historic glassware cut with secret codes, to miniature and full-length portraits.

Earlier this year, the Drambuie liqueur company said its collection was safe, even as it prepared to sell off millions of pounds of art on the open market.

But heritage groups feel it may be changing its mind. A Drambuie spokesman would only say yesterday: "No decision has been taken regarding the future of the Jacobite collection."

The uncertainty is alarming Jacobite historians and museum chiefs. While the material has huge symbolic and historic value, experts suggest it might be bought for less than GBP 1 million - the price of two major paintings by the Scottish Colourists, for example.

James Irvine Robertson, the author of three books on the Jacobites, said of the collection: "It's the best in the country, and it would be a tragedy if it got dispersed. It should be taken over by, or donated to, one of the big museums."

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