Galloway Hoard of rare Viking treasure to stay in Scotland

A unique cache of almost priceless Viking artefacts discovered by an amateur treasure hunter which could shed new light on Scottish history has been saved for the nation.

Photograph by: Neil HannaSeona Reid, National Heritage Memorial Fund trustee and Bruce Minto, Chairman of National Museums Scotland examine an arm ring from the Galloway Hoard.

Known as the Galloway Hoard the collection of more than 100 gold and silver objects has been described as “one of the most significant Viking hoards ever found in Scotland.

Metal detector enthusiast Derek McLennan from Ayrshire found the treasure while searching a piece of land belonging to the Church of Scotland in August 2014. It is believed the items were probably buried for safekeeping about 1,000 years ago.

Among the artefacts were a number of ornate armbands, an early Christian cross and other items. While the bulk of the find consisted of a rich Viking-age hoard of silver jewellery and ingots it also contained an outstanding range of exceptional precious metal and jewelled items, including a rare gold ingot, a gold bird-shaped pin and a decorated silver-gilt cup of Continental or Byzantine origin.

The Galloway Hoard is unique in bringing together a remarkable variety of objects in one discovery, hinting at hitherto unknown connections between people across Europe and beyond. It is considered to be of international significance and will transform understanding of this period of Scottish history.

Following the allocation of the Galloway Hoard in May 2017 to National Museums Scotland by the Queen’s Lord Treasurer’s Remembrancer, National Museums had just six months in which to get the money necessary to keep the collection intact and in Scotland. 

A major wide-ranging campaign was launched to raise £1.98 million in order to acquire the Galloway Hoard on behalf of the nation.

Photograph by: Neil HannaSeona Reid and Bruce Minto with a gold bird pin.

Following a generous funding contribution of £1 million from The National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF), £150,000 from the Scottish Government and widespread public support, totalling over 1,500 private donations, it has been announced the future of the unique Hoard of Viking-age treasures is at last secure.

Dr Gordon Rintoul, Director of National Museums Scotland said: “In the last six months we have been overwhelmed by the response from the general public who have got behind our campaign.
“I am also grateful for the generosity of Art Fund, the Scottish Government, charitable trusts and individual donors.

“Now we look forward to starting the work on conserving and researching the Hoard to unlock its secrets”

A selection of objects from the Hoard is currently on display at the National Museum of Scotland until 29 October. Visitors have a small window of opportunity in which to see it before it is taken away for vital conservation.

It is anticipated the necessary conservation and research work will take around two years before the Hoard will once again be seen at the National Museum of Scotland prior to a national tour.

“The Galloway Hoard is one of the most important collections ever discovered in Scotland. It is important that the hoard is made available for the people of Scotland and our visitors from around the world to see,” said Fiona Hyslop MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs.


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