Viking Treasure Trove


January/February 2015


A metal detectorist near Dumfries in southwest Scotland has discovered what authorities are hailing as the largest and most significant Viking hoard found in the country in more than 120 years. Among the 100 artifacts, dating from the ninth and tenth centuries, are high-quality gold and silver objects including bracelets, brooches, pins, and armbands, as well as two exceptional items—a silver cross with unique enamel decorations and a rare silver cup. The engraved cup, which was made in the Holy Roman Empire during the time of Charlemagne or his successors, is one of only three Carolingian cups ever found in Britain. After archaeologists unearthed the vessel, wrapped in textiles and with its lid still intact, they discovered that it had also been filled with other valuable objects, including glass beads.


Trenches-Viking-Hoard-PinThe hoard is especially significant due to its unusually broad range of material, with objects originating in Ireland, Britain, Scandinavia, and continental Europe. “It’s clear that these artifacts are of great value in themselves,” says Fiona Hyslop, Scotland’s cabinet secretary for culture and external affairs, “but their greatest value will be in what they can contribute to our understanding of life in early medieval Scotland, and what they tell us about the interaction between the different peoples in these islands at that time.”