Hoard of silver unearthed in Aberdeenshire field

Alice Blackwell and Hamish Torrie holding a Late Roman Silver brooch along with other pieces. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

Alice Blackwell and Hamish Torrie holding a Late Roman Silver brooch along with other pieces. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

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A HOARD of Roman and Pictish silver has been unearthed by archaeologists working in a field in Aberdeenshire.

The find, which contains more than 100 pieces including coins and jewellery, has been hailed as the most northern of its kind in Europe.

The discovery was made earlier this year by archaeologists from National Museums Scotland and the University of Aberdeen’s Northern Picts project at an undisclosed location.

It will now become the subject of a programme of research involving detailed analysis and cataloguing through the Glenmorangie Research Project - a three-year sponsorship of National Museums Scotland to support the study of Early Medieval Scotland.

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Dr Martin Goldberg, senior curator of early historic collections, said: “It is a hugely important discovery being Europe’s most northerly Late Roman hacksilver hoard, and also containing otherwise unique Pictish silver.

“The research project will enable us to shed new light on the interaction between the Picts and the Late Roman world and reconsider what some older finds in our collection can tell us about Early Medieval Scotland.”

Dr Gordon Noble, senior lecturer at the department of archaeology at the University of Aberdeen, led the fieldwork as part of the Northern Picts project.

He said: “This exciting new find is part of a broader phenomenon of hacksilver hoards which stretch across Europe from the fourth to sixth centuries AD, when the Western Roman Empire was in decline.

“Silver objects were chopped up into bullion and then used and exchanged as payment, bribes, tribute and reward. People buried their wealth to keep it safe, but many did not return to recover their hoard.

“The new finds include late Roman coins, pieces of late Roman silver vessels, bracelet and brooch fragments and other objects that would have been highly prized objects in their day.

“Our work in north-east Scotland is increasingly showing that Pictish communities in this area were part of powerful kingdoms in the early medieval period.”

Items from the hoard will be on display for the first time at the University of Aberdeen from January 20 to May 31.

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