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Treasure Trove

Irish items are in this incredible Viking hoard found in a Scottish field

The man who found it did so using a metal detector.

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A MAN ARMED with a metal detector has made a significant discovery of a Viking hoard in Scotland, and some of the items in it are thought to be Irish.

Scotland’s Treasure Trove Unit – which has to be the coolest name for a museum department that we’ve ever heard – reported that retired businessman Derek McLennan found the hoard in a field in Dumfries.

Head of the Treasure Trove Unit, Stuart Campbell, told that the find consisted of a range of objects, including arm rings that are thought to be Irish.

There has been much excitement among the archaeological community due to the find in south west Scotland.

Early indications are that it is a rich hoard of Viking artefacts containing over 100 items such as silver ingots, armbands and brooches, and several gold objects.


There is also a complete metal vessel containing more objects. This has not yet been emptied yet, and the first step will be to examine it by x-ray.

The Treasure Trove Unit said that “it is already clear that this is one of the most significant Viking hoards ever discovered in Scotland”.

Campbell said this is a “very important and significant find”. Historic Scotland has worked together with Treasure Trove Unit and National Museums Scotland staff to recover the fascinating items.

Due to the quantity and variety of the objects, and the importance of the find overall, it will take some time for experts to assess the hoard as a whole so that we can appreciate its true significance. We look forward to learning more.

He also thanked the finder for reporting the discovery as quickly as possible.

Why is this hoard unusual?

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Mainly because of the breadth of material inside – nothing similar has been found in Scotland before.

The silver vessel is of Carolingian origin, and there are also silver stamp-decorated bracelets from Ireland. Some of these have runic inscriptions, which have not yet been deciphered.

Then there are glass beads within the vessel, which are of a type commonly found in Scandinavia and which were traded from central Europe. “It took a lot of skill to make them,” said Campbell.

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He pointed out that Vikings traded in the Black Sea and as far as modern day Iraq, as evidenced from coin hoards found in the UK and Ireland which have Islamic coins in them.

The Treasure Trove Unit explained more about the hoard:

The material currently known dates from the mid-9th to mid-10th centuries but will require further work to pinpoint the date more precisely. Many objects such as the Carolingian vessel are perhaps one hundred years older than the other material, indicating objects which may have been heirloom pieces.

The silver cup is engraved with animals and is one of only three known in Britain. This beautiful golden bird pin is thought to be Anglo-Saxon:

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The laws on using metal detectors are different in Scotland to Ireland – it is effectively banned in the Republic of Ireland.

Campbell said that a hoard such as this could be used a sort of safety deposit box for burying materials. “What you’re looking at is the personal or group fortune of a person or persons. For some reason, they never came back to claim it.”

All pics courtesy of Treasure Trove Unit. Find out more about unit on Facebook.

Read: What’s being done about historic gravestones at the ‘Cabbage Gardens’ being vandalised?>

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