King Arthur manuscript sold for £2.39m

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AN ILLUMINATED 14th century manuscript containing what is believed to be the oldest surviving account of the legends of King Arthur sold yesterday for more than £2m.

The Rochefoucauld Grail, above, a colourful illustrated account of the knights of the round table, Merlin and the Holy Grail, was sold by auction house Sotheby's in London. It had been estimated to sell for between 1.5m and 2m but eventually went for 2.39m.

More than 200 cows would have been needed to produce the vellum sheets for the three hefty volumes of the manuscript, which contains 107 finely painted illustrations.

It was written in Flanders or Artois some time between 1315 and 1323 and probably produced for Guy VII, Baron de Rochefoucauld, head of one of the leading aristocratic families of medieval France.

The manuscript went on to be acquired by 19th century collector Sir Thomas Phillipps and had changed hands twice before this sale.