HOPES are rising that a relic of Robert the Bruce will return to Scotland.

The Scottish Government says it will encourage any effort to keep an historic seal in the UK - and "ideally" its future home should in Scotland.

This week the UK government put an export bar on a two part bronze seal commissioned by Robert I, dating from 1322.

It can be saved for the nation if a buyer matches the asking price of £151,250.

Recently owned by a London-based collector, it was sold at auction late last year.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "The King Robert the Bruce of Scotland and Dunfermline Abbey Cokete Seal is of outstanding historical significance to Scotland and we welcome the temporary move to stop export of this important cultural object.

"The export bar allows for those who may wish to purchase this object adequate time to raise the required funds.

"We encourage any effort to ensure this item stays within the UK and ideally returns to Scotland and so we will speak to and encourage any interested Scottish organisation that could support its purchase and future display."

The seal is at risk of being exported from the UK unless a buyer can be found.

Westminster Culture Minister Ed Vaizey has placed a temporary export bar on the seal this week.

Authorised in 1322 by Robert the Bruce, it was used to seal customs documents by Dunfermline Abbey as proof of their authority and endorsement by the King.

The upper part of the seal is engraved with St Margaret, Dunfermline Abbey’s founding saint, and the lower part bears the royal arms of Scotland.

The inscription on the side translates as ‘Robert, by the Grace of God, King of the Scots’.

The seal is extremely rare, and is, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, said: "of outstanding significance for the study of medieval Scotland, and medieval goldsmiths’ work."

Mr Vaizey said: "This amazing artefact represents one of the few objects directly associated with Robert the Bruce’s reign.

"Its departure would not only result in the loss of this irreplaceable item, but it would also strip us of the opportunity to learn more about this exceptional figure."