In 2014, in south-west Scotland, an amazing find by a metal-detectorist was discovered in Galloway, close to the Irish Sea. The Hoard was buried around AD 900 and contains over a hundred diverse medieval relics, from silver, gold and jewelled treasures to rare preserved textiles.
Over 5kg of silver bullion was discovered, but much more than treasure, it is the richest collection of rare and unique Viking Age objects ever found in Britain or Ireland. Hidden below a decoy layer of silver, the treasure below, hidden for over eleven hundred years, has the sense of being its own museum, hidden successfully from invaders, but lost by its curators. A treasure of Viking, Anglo-Saxon, and even more exotic items all bundled together. Alongside silver arm-rings and a beautiful pectoral cross, its chain still attached, a gold brooch pin, and others, there was a small silver vessel wrapped in linen, wool, and silk.
The vessel had been wrapped before it was placed in the ground, and x-ray imaging has revealed the surface decorations to be Zoroastrian, suggesting this container had travelled thousands of miles from Central Asia to the north of Britain. Radiocarbon dating of the wool revealed it to be hundreds of years older than the actual burial of the hoard.
Preserving its precious contents, the vessel was loaded with precious objects. Along with more rare and valuable items such as gold brooches, silver rings, and glass beads, were two dirt balls. One theory is that they are a type of tourist memento; as senior curator Dr Martin Goldberg explains, “there are medieval records of pilgrims acquiring mud, earth or dirt that had been rubbed in the dust that formed in Christian shrines and underneath reliquaries.”
After a Covid-induced delay, parts of the Hoard have finally been exhibited at Scotland’s National Museum, and can be viewed online too.
Have a glorious day and remember to take care of yourselves, Avocado!