Disappointment as Viking Hoard goes to Edinburgh

The historically significant find was made by Derek McLennan, a committed metal detector enthusiast in Dumfries and Galloway. Picture: SWNS
The historically significant find was made by Derek McLennan, a committed metal detector enthusiast in Dumfries and Galloway. Picture: SWNS

Viking treasure found in a Galloway field is to be exhibited in Edinburgh, and not in Kirkcudbright, it has been announced.

The decision by the Queen’s and Lord Treasurer’s Remembrancer to award the Galloway Viking Hoard to National Museums Scotland has been met with disappointment in Galloway.

However discussions are still underway to secure at least part of the Hoard to go on permanent display in Galloway.

Cathy Agnew, Campaign chair of the Galloway Viking Hoard (GVH) Campaign, said: “This treasure was buried in Galloway for safekeeping 1,000 years ago – it is deeply disappointing that the QLTR believes it should be allocated to the National Museum in Edinburgh where it will potentially be lost amongst so many other wonderful artefacts.

“This is a most unfortunate decision for the region and for Scotland. It is doubly disappointing that a more enlightened approach has not been taken, especially as 2017 is Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology.

“The support from the public, from academics, politicians of all parties, and so many others – across Scotland and the world – to keep the hoard in Galloway, where it would be cherished, has been magnificent. It is a real shame their voices and their passion have gone unheeded.

“Dumfries and Galloway Council’s bid was outstanding. It would have saved the hoard for the region and the nation in a superb, specially designed exhibition area at the new Kirkcudbright Gallery – near to where it was found. We very much hope that even at this late stage discussions will continue and a fair compromise can be reached.”

National Museums said it believes that it is important there is a display of the Hoard in Dumfries and Galloway, and intends to continue to seek a dialogue with Dumfries and Galloway Council to ensure that a representative portion of the Hoard goes on long-term display in Kirkcudbright Art Gallery.

National Museums Scotland now has six months to secure funding of £1.98 million in order to acquire the Hoard for the nation.

The Hoard, which brings together the richest collection of rare and unique Viking-age objects ever found in Britain or Ireland, is of international significance and will transform understanding of this period of Scottish history. Uncovered by a metal detectorist in 2014 the Hoard comprises in excess of 100 gold, silver and other items from the Viking Age. The Hoard was buried at the beginning of the tenth century, although some of the items within the Hoard date from an earlier period.

Dr Gordon Rintoul, Director of National Museums Scotland commented: “The Galloway Hoard is of outstanding international significance and we are absolutely delighted that the Queen’s and Lord Treasurer’s Remembrancer (QLTR) has decided to allocate it to National Museums Scotland. We now have six months to raise £1.98 million to acquire this unique treasure for the nation and ensure it can be enjoyed by future generations both at home and abroad.”

The bulk of the find is a rich Viking-age hoard of silver jewellery and ingots. However, it also contains 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 cup is carefully wrapped in textiles and is the only complete lidded vessel of its type ever discovered in Britain or Ireland. This vessel contains further unusual objects: beads; amulets of glass and rock crystal; pilgrimage relics; a silver penannular brooch; another rare gold ingot; five Anglo-Saxon disc brooches of a kind not found in Scotland before; and jewelled aestels, pointers used to read and mark places within medieval manuscripts.

Due to its nature and importance, the Hoard will require considerable specialist input from the team at National Museums Scotland to properly conserve, interpret and prepare for the display of the material. National Museums aims to ensure that it can be enjoyed and understood by visitors from Scotland, the rest of the UK and internationally.

National Museums is now seeking the agreement of the QLTR to put key elements of the Hoard on display at the National Museum of Scotland for a limited period of time, prior to conservation work starting. This will offer the public the opportunity to have the first glimpse of this exciting treasure.