Top Viking Finds from Scotland.
Scotland has a rich history and culture, including an abundance of Viking history and influence. A report has concluded that 12% of people living in our home in Argyll are descended from Vikings. This figure rises to 29.2% on Shetland and to 25.2% on Orkney. So it is no surprise that Scotland has become a hot bed of archaeological finds from the Viking period (Scotsman, 2015). Below are our top three Viking Finds from Scotland.
- Galloway hoard
“Nothing like this has ever been found in Scotland.”- Dr Martin Goldberg, Principal Curator of Medieval Archaeology and History (National museums of Scotland). The Galloway hoard is perhaps the richest collection of Viking artefacts ever found in Britain and Ireland. It was discovered recently in 2014 by a metal detectorist in Dumfriesshire. The hoard included a collection of silver ingots and armbands, as well as a Vermeil Carolingian container full of brooches, beads and gold ingots. Traces of silk samite were also found. Finding remains of an organic material makes the hoard even more significant. (Archaeologygroup.com, 2014) These finds inspired us to recreate a silver cuff found in the hoard, which you can see below. Jim skilfully recreated the punches and made the cuff the same way they were made in the Viking age.
- Lewis Chess man set
Sometime before the 11th April 1831, a number of Viking chess sets were found buried within a sand dune at Uig on the Isle of Lewis. Believed to have been made in Trondheim in the 12th century, the 93 pieces in total highlight the strong social and cultural link between the Scandinavian Vikings and Celtic Scottish and Irish nations (British Museum, 2019). The pieces carved from walrus ivory and whale tooth are thought to have been buried by a merchant for safe keeping who would have been traveling between Norway and Ireland. The Isle of Lewis was in fact part of the Kingdom of Norway during the Viking age. They are now on display at the National museum of Scotland in Edinburgh and in the British Museum in London.
3.The Ardnamurchan boat burial
Discovered in 2011, this boat burial was found in Port an Eilean Mhòir in Ardnamurchan, Argyll, and is the first fully intact grave of this kind in Britain. The burial was dated to the 10th century, and many Viking artefacts were found during the excavations (Harris, 2017, pp. 1). These included a sword, axe, spear, shield, and a ring pin similar to our Bronze Irish style in dot pattern. By the fact that this individual was buried in a boat and was surrounded by weapons tells us this person was someone of high status (Harris, 2017, pp. 6). While two surviving teeth were submitted for isotope analysis, the gender of this individual has not yet been discovered. The lack of jewellery suggests that this individual was male. However, recent research into the complexity of gender within the Viking age would suggest that we cannot assume the individual’s gender from lack of jewellery alone. See below our Irish Bronze ring pin, similar to one found within this grave.
Thank you for reading! Let us know your favourite Scottish archaeological finds from the Viking age!
Aocarchaeology.com. (2019). The Galloway Hoard. [online] Available at: http://www.aocarchaeology.com/key-projects/gallowayhoard/ [Accessed 15 Feb. 2019].
Harris, O., Cobb, H., Batey, C., Montgomery, J., Beaumont, J., Gray, H., Murtagh, P. and Richardson, P. (2017). Assembling places and persons: a tenth-century Viking boat burial from Swordle Bay on the Ardnamurchan peninsula, western Scotland. Antiquity, 91(355), pp.191-206.
Scotsman.com. (2019). Vikings still running rampant in Scottish DNA. [online] Available at: https://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/vikings-still-running-rampant-in-scottish-dna-1-3781684 [Accessed 15 Feb. 2019].
The British Museum (2019). The Lewis Chessmen. [online] Available at: https://www.britishmuseum.org/about_us/news_and_press/statements/the_lewis_chessmen.aspx [Accessed 15 Feb. 2019].
Jesch, J. (2006). Women in the Viking age. 1st ed. Woodbridge, Suff.: The Boydell Press.