HISTORIC images of Lawrence of Arabia, discovered by chance, will be auctioned for upwards of £3,000 on Friday.

The original negatives of the photographs, including four portraits of the World War One hero in India in the 1920s, go under the hammer at Duke's, Dorchester.

They were unearthed by a Dorset photography enthusiast inside a Victorian stereo viewer bought at a Bournemouth auction seven years ago.

Thomas Edward (TE) Lawrence was stationed at Bovington Camp during part of his military service and died in a motorcycle accident near his home at Clouds Hill.

Deborah Doyle, valuer at Duke's, said the auction house had received international interest in the glass plates.

She said: "We are very excited to find these negatives of Lawrence as they are extremely rare and are sure to attract lots of interest."

The two boxes of glass slides, together with a collection of black and white prints, are listed at a price of between £1,500-£3,000, but could exceed the upper estimate.

The images include the iconic portraits of Lawrence, some of which are on show at the National Portrait Gallery.

Other pictures are thought to have belonged to Commander Smethem, a colleague of Lawrence's, and may have been taken at Bovington, possibly with Lawrence's own camera.

The gravity of the find dawned on the seller, who wants to remain anonymous, when he saw the name Shaw etched on the images - the name referring to Lawrence's penfriend, the wife of poet George Bernard Shaw.

Lawrence served in the Tank Corps at Bovington between 1923 and 1925.

It was during this period that he first rented the cottage at Clouds Hill, which he later bought.

He retired in 1935, having also served in the RAF, and returned to the cottage but suffered severe head injuries in the motorcycle accident on May 13.

He died six days later and was buried just down the road at Moreton.