Keep the Viking hoard in Galloway

A pectoral cross. Image: Dumfries and Galloway council
A pectoral cross. Image: Dumfries and Galloway council

A new group is calling for public to support in a campaign for a fantastic archaeological discovery to have its home in Galloway.

Campaigners are calling for one of the most spectacular Viking hoards ever discovered in Scotland to have its home near where it was found in Dumfries and Galloway.

A spectacular Carolingian vessel. Image: Dumfries and Galloway Council

A spectacular Carolingian vessel. Image: Dumfries and Galloway Council

Launched this week, the Galloway Viking Hoard Campaign (GVH), is backing Dumfries and Galloway Council’s (DGC) proposals for the spectacular finds to have their permanent or regular home in a specially designed exhibition space at the new Kirkcudbright Art Gallery.

GVH supporters are concerned that a rival bid by National Museums Scotland (NMS), which is seeking sole ownership, could see the collection disappear to Edinburgh and become just one small exhibit among thousands of others.

They point to the growing trend for significant archaeological and cultural items to be exhibited locally rather than in capital cities – boosting cultural tourism and enriching a region’s ability to celebrate its own distinctive history.

According to campaign chair, Cathy Agnew, the fact that 2017 is Scotland’s designated Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology makes it an ideal moment for bold, fresh thinking.

She said: “This is a time for Scotland to take the lead. The Galloway Viking Hoard is quite extraordinary and should have pride of place in a specially created exhibition space in the new Kirkcudbright Art Gallery.

“Remarkable finds have so often been whisked away from the communities where they were discovered only to become a small feature in a large national museum. This is a very old-fashioned approach and in 2017 we should be making sure that regions fully benefit from their cultural riches.

“Having a collection of this kind in Dumfries and Galloway would act as a powerful magnet to bring in visitors from all over the country and overseas, benefiting the local economy by encouraging them to spend time here visiting historic sites.

David Devereux, GVH vice chair, says: “Some of the items in the hoard are of breathtaking beauty and could become icons for the region, spurring people across the world to discover more about its distinctive past – and the people, lives, cultures and kingdoms that existed before Scotland was born.”

The hoard was discovered at an undisclosed location in Galloway by a metal detectorist in 2014 and had been deliberately buried over 1000 years ago.

Campaign supporters have been urged to send letters of support ahead of two crucial meetings taking place in coming weeks. The first is a meeting of the DGC Communities Committee on 7 March that will decide how best to take forward the council’s bid. The second is a meeting of the Scottish Archaeological Finds Allocation Panel (SAFAP) which is due to decide the hoard’s future on 23 March.

It is understood that NMS has so far failed to provide any detail about how much of the collection would ever be seen in Galloway.