Treasure hunter uncovers one of the most significant Viking hoards ever found in Scotland
An amateur treasure hunter equipped with a metal detector has unearthed a massive hoard of Viking artifacts in Dumfries and Galloway, in what has been described as one of the most significant archaeological finds in Scottish history. According to the Herald Scotland , more than 100 Viking relics were found, including silver ingots, armbands, brooches, and gold objects.
Derek McLennan, 47, was using a metal detector on Church of Scotland land when he picked up a signal indicating the presence of metal beneath the ground. He dug down some 24 inches (60 centimetres) before finding the first item. As soon as Derek recovered the first arm-ring he realised the significance of his find and contacted the Scottish Treasure Trove Unit. They sent an experienced archaeologist, Andy Nicholson and the hoard was excavated properly. Mr McLennan has been praised for his actions in this historically significant find by Fiiona Hyslop, the cabinet secretary for Culture and External Affairs " ... I would like to echo the praise for the responsible behaviour of the metal detectorists: without their continued cooperation this would not be possible.”
Among the findings was an early Christian cross from the 9 th or 10 century AD made from solid silver, described as having unique and unusual decorations. There was also a rare Carolingian vessel, believed to be the largest Carolingian pot ever discovered. The Carolingian dynasty had its origin with a Frankish noble family beginning the 7th century AD, and represents the earliest stage in the history of the kingdom of France and the kingdom of Germany. The Vikings are known to have conducted numerous raids on Carolingian lands between 8 th and 10 th century AD.
Vikings about to conduct a raid. illuminated illustration from the 12th century Miscellany on the Life of St. Edmund. Pierpont Morgan Library. Image source: Wikipedia
The rich hoard of artifacts also includes a complete metal vessel that is still sealed, but contains numerous objects of an unknown nature inside it. Before opening the vase, researchers will examine its contents using x-ray techniques.
Scotland's Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said of the latest find: "The Vikings were well known for having raided these shores in the past, but today we can appreciate what they have left behind, with this wonderful addition to Scotland's cultural heritage.
"It's clear that these artefacts are of great value in themselves, 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.
While there are few records, the Vikings are thought to have led their first raids in Scotland on the island of Iona in 794. In 839, a large Norse fleet invaded via the River Tay and River Earn, both of which were highly navigable, and reached into the heart of the Pictish kingdom of Fortriu. They defeated the king of the Picts, and the king of the Scots of Dál Riata, along with many members of the Pictish aristocracy in battle. The sophisticated kingdom that had been built fell apart, as did the Pictish leadership.
The Church of Scotland, which owns the land where the treasure was found, has reached an agreement with Mr McLennan about the equitable sharing of any proceeds that will eventually be awarded. The hoard is now with the Scottish Treasure Trove Unit until it has been fully examined and a decision is made about its future location.
Featured image: Left: Large silver alloy Carolingian vessel. Right: Christian cross from 9 th or 10 th century. Image source: BBC.