Sir Walter Scott lived at Abbottsford in the Borders
A major milestone has been reached in £10m plans to safeguard the future of the former home of Sir Walter Scott.
A bid for Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) support has cleared the first stage of its application process.
The trustees of Abbotsford House near Melrose in the Borders have also been awarded £144,000 to assist in taking forward their £4.4m grant application.
A campaign was launched last year to ensure the historic site could become a "world-class visitor attraction".
The future of Abbotsford has been in doubt since the death in 2004 of Scott's last direct descendant to live in the property.
Having cleared the first funding hurdle, a second stage application will be submitted later this year.
It is hoped a final grant decision could be delivered in early 2010.
Head of the HLF, Colin McLean, said the organisation was pleased to help take the funding bid forward.
"There is no question that this great heritage site needs to be saved," he said.
"The hard work starts now as to how that is done and the HLF is pleased to be able to help by awarding development funding today."
The announcement was welcomed by Abbotsford trustee Tony Taylor.
He added: "There is still a great deal of work to be done to try to secure both the £4.4m HLF funding and the additional match-funding that will be required.
"We believe that the support we have received at so many different levels, combined with the sound business case that we are compiling, will enable us to raise all the necessary funds to save Abbotsford for future generations."
Sir Walter Scott bought the property in 1811 and died there in 1832.
It has been opened to the public since 1833 and contains a wide array of historic relics, weapons and armour as well as a library holding more than 9,000 rare volumes.