Page last updated at 06:37 GMT, Thursday, 1 October 2009 07:37 UK

Art expert buys Knights' shields

The shields were found in the attic of Skelmorlie Castle

Shields created for a 19th Century Scottish jousting tournament which was contested by the future Napoleon III of France have been bought for the nation.

The trophies were commissioned by the 13th Earl of Eglinton for his three-day medieval re-enactment in 1839.

Eight of the original 40 shields, which were found in the attic of Skelmorlie Castle, Ayrshire, were sold at auction to art expert James Knox for £8,000.

He said he hoped to make them the centrepiece of a new exhibition.

About 100,000 people are thought to have attended the Eglinton tournament, which cost £40,000 and was intended as a display of medieval pageantry.

'Blockbuster exhibition'

About 150 prospective knights were originally lined up, although only 14 took part.

The re-enactment of the jousting competition became a wash-out after heavy rain flooded the nearby Lugton Water, meaning that spectators were forced to walk miles through the mud as their carriages became stuck in the quagmire.

Mr Knox, who is also campaigning to raise funds to buy 20 rare watercolours that recorded the event, said: "I am delighted to have been able to buy the Eglinton shields for Scotland.

"I hope to use the shields as a centrepiece to a blockbuster exhibition about the tournament in Edinburgh and Ayrshire."

The shields, originally valued at between £3,000 and £5,000, were sold by the owner of Skelmorlie Castle in Ayrshire, where they were found during an attic clear-out.

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