A lock of hair belonging to Mary Queen of Scots is set to be auctioned.

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The tuft is expected to fetch £3,000 when it goes under the hammer at in Edinburgh next week.

The collectors’ item – which is mounted on a jewellery box – was found in an envelope by the eighth Lord Belhavem, Lord High Commissioner in the late 1880s.

A hand-written note saying “a lock of my own hair, Mary R” was found with the envelope. The signature was later authenticated as that of Queen Mary Stuart.

Colin Fraser, silver specialist at Lyon & Turnbull, revealed the details of the discovery. He said: “He discovered the lock of hair in a secret drawer in an old bureau in Holyrood Palace, where he had private apartments.

“They were acknowledged to have been used by Mary Queen of Scots.”

After Belhaven found the lock, he split it into two pieces, giving one half to Queen Victoria and keeping the other for himself.