The Monymusk Reliquary by Unknown Artist

This work is one of nine known early Irish and Scottish house-shaped reliquaries, made to hold sacred remains and to be worn around the neck.


Wood, bronze & silver
8.9 x 11.2 x 5.1 cm
Art Fund grant:
£1,209 ( Total: £2,500)
Acquired in:
Sir Arthur Lindsay Grant

The reliquary enjoyed cult status in Scotland because it was long identified with the Breccbennach, the ancient talisman carried before the Scottish army in battle when Robert the Bruce defeated the English at the Battle of Bannockburn in June 1314, confirming his position as King of Scotland. For this reason it has even appeared on Clydesdale Bank £20 notes. Recent research has concluded, however that The Monymuse Reliquary is unlikely to be the Breccbennach. Its misplaced veneration caused such a stir in Scotland that Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald pledged his support for its acquisition for the nation in 1933.


Christies, 1933.

Venue details

National Museum of Scotland Chambers Street, EDINBURGH Edinburgh EH1 1JF 0300 123 6789

Entry details

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Daily, 10am – 5pm 26 Dec and 1 Jan, 12 – 5pm Closed 25 Dec