Page last updated at 12:02 GMT, Tuesday, 26 August 2008 13:02 UK

Vandals damage king's tombstone

Cambuskenneth Abbey (Picture: Historic Scotland)
The tomb of King James III resides in Cambuskenneth Abbey

Repairs are to be carried out on the marble tombstone of King James III after it was smashed by vandals.

The shattered section of the Tournai cover, which sits in the bell tower of Cambuskenneth Abbey, near Stirling, is being repaired by Historic Scotland.

The damage was done three weeks ago when a piece of the stone that had already been cracked by vandals earlier in the year was targeted again.

The Scottish king was buried at the abbey after being murdered in 1488.

Historic Scotland will remove the stone and transfer it to its centre in Edinburgh, where conservation experts will attempt to repair the damage.

Tomb cover

Richard Welander, the organisation's head of collections, said the sections of the tomb cover which remained intact would be moved elsewhere on site and kept under lock and key.

He said: "I am very pleased that the experts at our conservation centre believe they can repair the shattered section of the tomb cover.

"What's sad is that due to vandals we will have to invest an estimated 2,000 in staff time and materials in undoing the damage.

"We also feel that it is wise to temporarily lock away the rest of the tomb cover to keep it safe from attack."

James III was born in 1451 and came to the throne in 1460 after his father was killed by an exploding cannon. He was murdered in 1488.

Brass effigy

He had fallen from his horse while fleeing from the battle of Sauchieburn, which was fought between his armies and nobles who supported his son, the future James IV.

He then took shelter with a miller and his wife, but was killed in circumstances which remain unclear.

The king was then buried in Cambuskenneth Abbey.

The grave site is in the nave of the abbey and the king's actual tomb is in the bell tower. Its cover is blue Tournai marble and would originally have had a brass effigy of the king on top.

It is said to be a very rare surviving example of a Scottish medieval royal tomb.


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