POLICE have launched a hunt for thieves who have stolen Roman pottery dating back to 80 AD from the museum at Melrose Abbey.

Officers investigating the incident believe the thieves struck late last week as the Borders tourist attraction geared up for an influx of visitors over the Bank Holiday weekend.

Worth around £400, the items which had been dug up within the abbey's grounds are believed to have been made by the Romans from 80-180 AD.

The Commendator's House contains the collection at the ruined former home to the Cistercian Order, which was founded by David I in 1136.

Displayed are objects of everyday Roman life such cooking pots, portable urinals and floor tiles. There is also a precious fragment of the shrine of St Waltheof, the second abbot on display in the museum.

The Museum was built in the late 1500 and has been restored to allow visitors inside.

Police believe they struck between last Wednesday April 30 and Friday May 1.

Police Scotland urged anyone with information about the theft or the missing pottery's whereabouts to come forward.

Constable Liam Myers said: "The room was not open at the time of this incident, however we are keen to hear from anyone who remembers seeing anything suspicious around Melrose Abbey between Wednesday and Friday last week.

"In addition, those with information that can help us trace those responsible and return the items to the museum is also urged to contact police immediately."

Those with information can contact Police Scotland on 101 or alternatively, the charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111

The Historic Scotland property is described by national tourism body VisitScotland as a "magnificent ruin"

It was destroyed mainly by Richard II's English army in 1385.

However, it remained in use as an abbey until the Protestant Reformation of 1560. The final monk died there in 1590.

It is believed to be the burial place of Robert the Bruce's heart, marked with a commemorative carved stone plaque within the grounds.

Over the past five years, more than £26,000 of property has been stolen from properties and sites run by Historic Scotland. The haul includes a stone statue and six wooden sculptures from Doune Castle in Stirlingshire along with lead and computer equipment.

The agency has previous admitted it is a challenge to prevent the problem at its 340 locations.

Historic Scotland's website said the Commendator's House Museum would remain shut until further notice.