A VIOLIN played on the deck of the Titanic as it sank has been discovered - in an attic.

Bandmaster Wallace Hartley fiddled Nearer, My God, To Thee with his group before they died in 1912. It was thought the violin had been lost forever at the bottom of the Atlantic.

But the scuffed, water-stained instrument was found in a musician’s loft - with Hartley’s name ENGRAVED on it.  Scientists have now concluded it is genuine following seven years of tests.

The violin - the most important artefact to emerge from the tragedy - is expected to be sold for a six-figure sum. It is believed Hartley - whose story featured in James Cameron’s movie Titanic - put it in his initialled leather bag and strapped it to his body.  Andrew Aldridge, of Wiltshire auction house Henry Aldridge & Son which examined the violin, said: “When we first saw it we had to keep a lid on our excitement.          –TS

It was almost too good to be true.”

Hartley, 34, died with 1,500 passengers and crew. The violin was returned to his fiancé Maria Robinson before being given to Bridlington Salvation Army band, East Yorks, when she died in 1939. Band leader Major Renwick passed it to one of his musicians but it was stashed away.

A letter with the violin read: “Major Renwick thought I would be best placed to make use of the violin but I found it virtually unplayable - doubtless due to its eventful life.” It will be displayed in Belfast - where the liner was built - before being exhibited worldwide then auctioned. TS