WHILE it may not be the world's oldest profession, it is definitely among the jobs that could be described as long in the tooth.

And now the venerable art of swordmaking is set to continue in Scotland for at least another generation after one of the last swordsmiths still working signed up a new apprentice to carry on the trade.

Master of Arms Paul MacDonald, of MacDonald Armouries, has been making rapiers, knives, broadswords and replica bladed weapons from his workshop in Edinburgh since setting up shop in 1998.

After deciding to pass on his skills, he advertised for an understudy only for the plea to spark interest around the globe, eventually drawing in more than more than a thousand from dozens of different counties

Mr MacDonald said: "It's just been myself in the armoury for years but I decided to take someone on and there was a huge amount of interest.

"The advert went viral across the internet and there were 1,200 applications from 30 different countries. I had a selection process and invited a few of them in for a work day to see how they would take to the work."

The winning candidate is a young man from Canada, who will soon relocate to Scotland to begin his career as a maker of weapons more fitting to a more courtly age.

While a basic aptitude for metalwork was required, Mr MacDonald said it was more important that he could forge a relationship with his apprentice lest the wrong sort of sparks fly in the armoury.

He said: "There's a lot to learn, so I wasn't looking for someone with a high level of skills, just the right aptitude and the right approach to the trade.

Making a sword is a lengthy process, and a highly crafted piece can take up to a year to complete. Paul, who trained as a dirk and skian dubh maker, crafts bespoke blades to individual clients' specifications that sell for anything from £500 to several thousand.

Buyers include hobbyists and historians, martial arts enthusiasts and collectors of ancient, medieval and renaissance weaponry.

The steel blades are forged at a foundry in Edinburgh and then shaped and crafted at Mr MacDonaldl's armoury, where the hilt, pommel and crossguard are also assembled.

One recent example was a replica of a 9th century Anglo-Saxon broadsword for a family in Canada based on an existing sword housed in a museum in England.

And the swordmaker's skills have also been put to use brining historic blades back to life, with a recent project involving the restoration of weapons dating from the 17th century from the Duke of Argyll's collection.

But toys they are not, although the armourer said that he had been called on to make swords inspired by a collectors' nostalgia for his formative years.

He said: "With there being a lot of swordplay adventure films in the cinemas at the moment, there's a lot of interest. But you find that many of the merchandising deals are tied up early and the designs are being mass produced by armouries in China and India.

"The most unusual one I've made to order was a replica of He-Man's Sword of Power from the Master's of the Universe cartoons. I've made a few of them now.

"And another popular replica is the Toledo Salamanca broadsword that's featured at the start of the film Highlander, along with the rapier from the Princess Bride."

He added: "It can take a year to make a sword, starting with the historical research. And I like that, because I'm always learning something or discovering something new."