Page last updated at 15:46 GMT, Monday, 17 November 2008

'Saved' death warrant on display

The document will be housed at Blairs College near Aberdeen

The only surviving copy of the death warrant of Mary Queen of Scots has been unveiled at a museum near Aberdeen after being saved for the UK.

The document had faced being taken overseas by a private buyer but was recently acquired by the library of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The first minister presented the paper to Blairs College, where the Mary Queen of Scots Memorial Portrait is housed.

The Catholic Queen was executed on 8 February, 1587 at Fotheringhay Castle.

Mr Salmond said: "I am delighted to present Blairs Museum with another part of Mary Queen of Scots' story.

"Linlithgow Palace, in my West Lothian hometown, is where her story began. Now this testament to her story's ending will add to the tangible appreciation of Scotland's heritage.

"This copy of her death warrant will help bring the past to life."

Export ban

The warrant instructs Henry Grey, the sixth Earl of Kent, to oversee arrangements for the execution.

Mary's cousin Queen Elizabeth I signed the warrant but later claimed she had given no instruction for its enactment.

The original paper disappeared in the recriminations which followed.

The document was acquired by the library of the Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth Palace for 72,485, with the help of heritage bodies' donations.

The purchase came after a temporary export ban was put in place last November by the government after a private owner applied for a licence to take it overseas.

The reviewing committee on the export of works of art and objects of cultural interest, administered by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, (MLA), had recommended that the manuscript was "so closely connected with our history and national life that its departure would be a misfortune".

In April this year it was announced that following discussions between the Archbishop of Canterbury, the first minister and Cardinal O'Brien, the warrant would be coming to Scotland.

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