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Masked man hunted by police after £1million raid at Arundel Castle

Detectives have asked for help identifying a man who was captured on CCTV footage after a break-in at Arundel Castle which saw priceless exhibits stolen.

The appeal to trace the man comes after the raid on the West Sussex castle last May, which led to several historic items worth more than £1 million being stolen from the building.

The stolen items include Mary Queen of Scots Rosary Beads, gold batons, and seven gold coronation cups dating back to the 1700s.

Sussex Police officers want to speak to a man who was captured on CCTV at the Clacket Lane motorway services on the M25 in Kent.

He was described as white, aged in his 30s or 40s, with dark coloured hair and a high hairline.

He was wearing a dark-coloured tracksuit top and bottoms.

A reward has been offered to anyone that can return the stolen items undamaged.

Police have released images of a man they would like to speak to about a break-in at Arundel Castle in May 2021

Treasures worth more than £1milion were stolen from Arundel Castle, West Sussex, including gold rosary beads Mary Queen of Scots carried to her execution in 1587 (pictured with her bible)

A spokesman for Sussex Police said: 'A man aged 45 years, has already been arrested on suspicion of the burglary after he was detained at an address in Eckington, Worcestershire, by Sussex Police officers in a joint operation with Gloucestershire Constabulary, West Mercia Police and Thames Valley Police.

'He is currently released under investigation.'

Detective Inspector Alan Pack of Sussex Police said: 'Our investigation into the Arundel Castle burglary remains live and we are keen to identify and trace this man.

'If you can help identify him or if you have any other information about this burglary, please contact us either online or by calling Sussex 101, quoting Operation Deuce.

'We also remind people that the insurers have offered a substantial reward should any of the property be recovered intact.' 

Experts previously said it was likely a curator - possibly from overseas - commissioned the smash and grab on the historic West Sussex castle, which took place at 10.30pm on Friday, May 21.

Police attended the castle within minutes of the alarms being tripped and shortly after discovered an abandoned 4x4 vehicle on fire nearby in Barlavington - which forensic teams examined to establish if it was part of the robbery.

The items stolen from Arundel Castle

  1. Mary Queen of Scots Rosary Beads;
  2. Seven gold / silver-gilt coronation cups (George II, George III, George IV, William IV, George V, George VI and Elizabeth II);
  3. Gold Earl Marshal’s baton;
  4. Gold and enamel baton;
  5. Other miscellaneous items including 10 silver-gilt Apostle Spoons, a silver-gilt casket with hunting and fishing scenes, and a silver-gilt mug.

Thieves took 'many' precious items after smashing their way into display cabinets, most notably the rosary beads Queen Mary carried to her death in 1587 when she was beheaded at Fotheringhay Castle for her complicity in a plot to murder Queen Elizabeth I.

A spokesman for Sussex Police said the rosary is of little value as metal. The force said: 'As a piece of the Howard family history and the nation's heritage it is irreplaceable.'

While Sussex Police said they could not comment further for 'operational reasons' experts said they believe the items will end up in an illegal private collection. 

On King Francis II's death in 1560, Mary left France, where she had spent much of her life until that point, and returned to Scotland.

In 1565 she married her half-cousin, Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, and in June 1566 they had a son, James.

She eventually fled to England in 1568, where she became a political pawn in the hands of Queen Elizabeth I and was imprisoned for 19 years in various castles in England.

Mary was found to be plotting against Elizabeth I when letters written in code, from her to others, were discovered and she was deemed guilty of treason.

 A Sussex Police spokesman said the rosary is of little value as metal, but of huge significance

Alarms at the castle were tripped at 10.30pm on May 21 and a display case (pictured above) was smashed so the thieves could get their hands on the treasures inside

Experts said it was likely a curator - possibly from overseas - commissioned the smash and grab on the historic Arundel Castle (pictured), which took place at 10.30pm on Friday, May 21 

She was taken to Fotheringhay Castle and executed in 1587.

A spokesman for Arundel Castle Trustees said: 'The stolen items have significant monetary value, but as unique artefacts of the Duke of Norfolk's collection have immeasurably greater and priceless historical importance.

'We therefore urge anyone with information to come forward to the police to assist them in returning these treasures back where they belong.'