'Sherlock Holmes' violin created

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A violin made from a tree in the garden of author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's childhood home is to be played to mark the 150th anniversary of his birth.

The violin was carved from the sycamore tree by Edinburgh-based luthier Steve Burnett.

It was made as a tribute to Conan Doyle's creation, Sherlock Holmes, who played the violin while solving cases.

It will feature on Friday night at a concert held by Dunedin School, which now occupies Conan Doyle's former home.

Conan Doyle, who was born on 22 May 1859, lived in Liberton Bank House, on the outskirts of Edinburgh, while attending school in the 1860s.

'Resonant tones'

Staff at Dunedin contacted Mr Burnett last year to see if he could use the tree, which had been felled because of rotten roots, to make an instrument.

The violin, which has been named "Sherlock", was inscribed with the words: "Sherlock, 150th anniversary, birth of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, wood from sycamore at Dunedin School, former childhood home, Edinburgh, 22/05/2009."

Mr Burnett told BBC Scotland he hoped to eventually carve a string quartet of two violins, a cello and a viola from the tree. Composers would then be invited to write music for the quartet to perform, he said.

He added: "I see it as a great thrill and a great honour as a luthier in Edinburgh, the birthplace of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, to have been asked to make an instrument with direct links to him.

"Sherlock Holmes did play a violin and used it to conjure up certain deep resonant tones on an old Stradivari that he was reputed to have played, which would have given him the kind of ambiance which was conducive to him being able to think over other matters."

The curator of the Sherlock Holmes museum in London has already expressed an interest in bringing the instrument to the capital.

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