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Appeal to keep blunderbuss at battle site

As a weapon it is more popularly associated with pirates and the Royal Navy, but a 350-year-old blunderbuss found at the last important battle on British soil, is making news.

The National Trust for Scotland (NTS) is trying to raise £65,000, to ensure this example of the historic firearm can remain on display at its visitor centre at the site of the Battle of Culloden. Half that amount will be sought from the appeal launched this week and half from grant-awarding bodies.

The blunderbuss has been on loan to the NTS and displayed at its Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre since 1996. The owner wants to remain anonymous.

The NTS has been offered 'first refusal' to purchase. If the charity is unable to secure funds within six months, the gun will be returned to the owner for sale. The most likely scenario is that it would then be purchased by a collector overseas and removed from Scotland, according to the trust.

The blunderbuss was made in around 1670 by John Finch, a leading London firearms maker, and is a rare survivor of its type - a muzzle-loading firearm with a flintlock mechanism and dog lock.

NTS's Individual Giving Manager, Rebecca Amiel, said yesterday: "As a conservation charity, we are so grateful for this support, which we hope will help us to secure this important piece of Culloden's history."

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