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Mystery sword on display in Dumfries

Mystery sword that could have belonged to infamous Border Reiver Photo: Dumfries & Galloway Council

A mystery sword that could have belonged to an infamous Border Reiver is on display at Dumfries Museum.

Museum staff are working with independent scholar Dr Valentina Bold, and a host of experts, to research the sword and find out more about how it came to be in the museum collection.

It is believed the weapon might have belonged to Kinmont Willie Armstrong who was notorious for his bloodthirsty raids in the border lands during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.

Based on initial studies, Dr Bold has been awarded funding from The Society of Antiquaries of Scotland to continue the research.

“We know Kinmont Willie best through the reiving ballad that describes his capture and jailbreak from Carlisle Castle. The ballad was first written down by Sir Walter Scott in 1802 but this was probably a very romanticised version of events.

"I have been delving into the papers written at the time of Willie’s capture and he really was a nasty piece of work! I will be continuing my research to see if we can find evidence for a sword, belonging to Willie, passing down from the 16th century to end up in the museum collection.”

– Dr Valentina Bold

Dumfries Museum is also exhibiting a selection of swords associated with famous local characters from different eras including a Bronze Age sword found near Lockerbie, a medieval blade discovered in the Lochar Moss and other weapons belonging to the poet Robert Burns and Arctic explorer Sir John Ross.