A FRAGMENT of St Cuthbert’s coffin has been withdrawn from sale at the eleventh hour.

The treasure, believed to have been taken as a souvenir by a 19th century clergyman, was due to be auctioned tomorrow (Thursday, March 27).

But a spokeswoman for Newcastle auctioneers Anderson and Garland said the executors had requested the lot be withdrawn from sale.

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The fragment was due to be sold with a robe from St Cuthbert’s coffin.

Both are displayed in a 19th century box from the collection of Ian Curry, a Durham Cathedral architect from 1976 to 1997, who died in 2012.

They are believed to have been removed by Canon James Raine when he opened Cuthbert’s coffin in Durham Cathedral in 1827.

However, the coffin was also opened in 1899, 1946 and 1978.

A spokeswoman for Durham Cathedral, which had been considering bidding for the item – valued at £200 to £300 – said it was aware it had been withdrawn from sale.