A PIECE of history is for sale in the form of a manse in the north east, where Scotland's crown jewels were hidden for nine years.

Kinneff Manse near Montrose is where the 'Honours of Scotland' - the crown, sceptre and sword - were hidden from the parliamentary armies of Oliver Cromwell.

In 1651, two years after Charles I was executed, the jewels were in Dunnottar Castle, near Stonehaven, when the fortress was besieged by Cromwell's forces under the command of General George Monck.

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Under the noses of the attackers it is thought Christian Grainger, whose husband was the minister of Kinneff Kirk down the coast, had smuggled the Honours out, although there was also a story they were lowered down the castle wall to a fisherwoman. Either way, they ended up at Kinneff Manse, where they were hidden first under a box bed.

Later Mr and Mrs Grainger wrapped them in linen cloth and hid them beneath the floor of the church, with the crown and sceptre under the pulpit, and the sword in a second hole.

The regalia stayed at Kinneff for nine years until safely returned to Edinburgh Castle in 1660 for the restoration of Charles ll.

The manse was extended twice in the 19th century, but some of the original parts remain, including the bedroom in which the Honours were hidden.

It sits two miles north east of Inverbervie and 22 miles from Aberdeen, overlooks the craggy coastline, and is now being sold by Strutt & Parker. Offers over £625,000 are being sought.

Owners Tony and Diana Peters said: "Oddly enough we didn't know the story of the Scottish crown jewels when we bought this house almost 18 years ago. However since then we have been involved in trying to get it better known, such as putting up new displays into the church, of which we are both trustees."

David Strang Steel of Strutt & Parker's Banchory office says: "This is a rare opportunity for someone to buy a large, period family home in an idyllic rural setting. The views of the sea are stunning and to know the house has played such an important part in Scotland's history makes it very special indeed".