ONE of Scotland’s most important collection of antique coins – part of which was stolen in a robbery a decade ago – has been gifted to the nation.

A total of 1000 pieces from the Stewartby collection, a hoard of 12th- and 13th-century silver pennies described by one expert as “our national treasure” was stolen during a break-in at the home of Lord and Lady Stewartby in Broughton, near Peebles ten years ago.

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The whereabouts of the coins has remained a mystery for Lord Stewartby, who had been collecting coins since he was a schoolboy, and is recognised as being a leading authority on the subject.

Many of the pieces date back to 1136 when the very first Scottish coins were minted.

A £50,000 reward for the return of the stolen coins remains active.

HeraldScotland:

Lord Stewartby has gifted his remaining collection - described as "the best ever put together by a private individual” - to the Hunterian museum at the University of Glasgow.

Sir Kenneth Calman, Chancellor of the University of Glasgow, accepted the coins at a small ceremony at Kelvin Hall.

Now 81, Lord Stewartby, once a minister in Margaret Thatcher’s Tory government, said: "I am pleased the Coin Cabinet of The Hunterian has felt able to accept my Scottish coin collection, built up over 75 years.

"The new Coin Cabinet is a fitting home for it where scholars and numismatists from all over the world may study the collection.

"My one regret is that the early part of the collection was stolen in 2007 and I would urge the perpetrators to return the coins to The Hunterian so that the collection is complete and represents a full history of Scotland from David I to the Union told through coins."

The collection contains some 6,000 coins from the reign of Alexander III in 1280 until the Act of Union of 1707. Included are silver pennies of Robert the Bruce, gold lions and unicorns of James I and II, and Renaissance portrait groats of James III.

HeraldScotland:

The more humble bawbee of the reigns of James V and Mary Queen of Scots is well represented and large silver ‘dollars’ come from the period of Mary’s marriage to Henry, Lord Darnley and bear the title ‘Mary and Henry, Queen and King of Scots’.

There are also many examples of the large issues of Scottish gold, silver and copper coins of the 17th century.

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Acting Director of The Hunterian, Mungo Campbell said: ‘We are delighted to accept this generous gift. The Lord Stewartby Coin Collection is of immense value to scholars and researchers and forms an outstanding cultural asset. It is a wonderful addition to our important numismatic collection, which is considered to be one of the finest in the world.’ With this gift to The Hunterian and the sale of The Lord Stewartby Academic Collection of English Coins, the dispersal of Lord Stewartby’s coins is complete.

Five years ago, Lord Stewartby said he believed the theft “must have been random”. At the time, he said he would spend his retirement sorting and cataloguing his remaining collection because he wanted to leave something to the nation.

Experts have said it would have been very difficult for the thieves to sell what are some of the rarest coins in Britain because dealers would realise they were from the stolen collection.