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Last Updated: Friday, 13 May, 2005, 15:53 GMT 16:53 UK
Document returns after 700 years
Historic document (picture by Donald Campbell)
The document spent centuries in the Tower of London
A document taken from Scotland 700 years ago has returned home after some detective work by a retired policeman.

Frank Harkness, 63, from Selkirk in the Borders, spotted the parchment, which dates from 1280, at Kew in London while researching local history.

It had been taken to the Tower of London after being seized by English King Edward I in 1296.

It was overlooked when other documents were returned but has now rejoined them in the National Archives of Scotland.

The parchment, which describes a dispute between two sets of tenants, would have been among the Scottish records taken south by Edward I as he attempted to control the country's means of justice.

Stone of Destiny

The documents removed from Edinburgh Castle included charters, papal bulls, bonds and records of debts and accounts.

Edward I - who became known as the Hammer of the Scots - also took many Scottish symbols, including the Stone of Destiny and the Scottish Crown Jewels.

Many of his spoils have since disappeared, although the Stone of Destiny was returned to Scotland in 1996.

A significant number of the other documents taken by Edward I found their way home in the mid-20th Century.

Frank Harkness (second left) with George MacKenzie, Keeper of the Records of Scotland (second right), and  Tom Gregan and Dr David Thomas from the National Archives (Picture by Alison Lindsay)
Frank Harkness (second left) stumbled across the parchment

However, the material found by Mr Harkness was missed.

The parchment tells of a dispute between tenants of the Scottish king, Alexander III, and tenants of the Lord of Brad in the Pentland Hills, near Edinburgh.

Mr Harkness, a retired Lothian and Borders detective inspector, spotted it in the Public Record Office in London. He alerted the Keeper of the Records of Scotland, who asked his English counterpart for it to be returned - a request which was approved by the Lord Chancellor.

Mr Harkness said: "There is a Harkness mentioned in the document. That is what attracted me to it at first.

"As I learned more about the document it became apparent where its place in history was."

Mr Harkness added: "It is quite unique because it is probably the last hostage of the Scottish wars of independence. It is the last link with that part of Scottish history."

He was present to see the document return to Edinburgh on Friday.

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