30 May 2017
Posted in Archaeology, History

If you bury it, they will come.

In August 2014, Derek McLennan, a “metal detectorist,” and two churchmen, Rev Dr. David Bartholomew and Pastor Mike Smith, also armed with metal detectors, were searching a church field in Galloway, Scotland, when McLennan’s detector indicated something beneath the soil.  After a bit of digging, he found a silver object. It turned out to be an ancient arm band. “Initially I didn’t understand what I had found because I thought it was a silver spoon and then I turned it over and wiped my thumb across it, and I saw the Saltire-type of design and knew instantly it was Viking.”

After a thorough excavation by local archaeologists, the world was richer by one Viking treasure trove, now known as the Galloway Hoard. It has been described by experts as “one of the most significant ever found in Scotland” and contains, among other objects, jewelry from various parts of the Viking world buried in the mid-ninth or 10th century. Its value? Approximately £2 million.

The hoard consists of gold and silver arm bands, a Christian cross, a delicate bird-shaped gold pin, brooches, and ingots. One of the rarest objects was a finely wrought Carolingian vessel. Still encrusted with pieces of cloth, it contained brooches and other treasures meticulously swathed in fabric.

Items in the hoard originated across a wide geographic area including Ireland, Scandinavia, and central Europe, and they were made over at least two centuries. The treasure has some similarities to other Viking finds, but its mix of gold, silver, glass, enamel, and textiles has been described by experts as unique.

After several years of deliberation, it has been determined that the hoard will end up with the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh—if, within six months, the institution can raise the £2 million required by British law to pay McLennan for the discovery.

We’ll keep an eye out for further information about the Galloway Hoard. Sounds like something you won’t want to miss on a future visit to Edinburgh.

For information about a journey to Scotland, contact Mariana Tosic at mtosic@rcrusoe.com or 888-490-8008.

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