Bull plays security guard for archaeological hoard

Historic Scotland went to usual means of protecting the hoard. Picture: Creative Commons
Historic Scotland went to usual means of protecting the hoard. Picture: Creative Commons
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ARCHAEOLOGISTS found an unusual way to protect their fabulous discovery from being ransacked by thieves - in the shape of a bull.

Staff at Historic Scotland persuaded a local farmer to place the half-tonne beast in the same field where the UK’s “most significant” haul of Viking treasure was discovered.


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More than 100 objects were found at the secret location in Dumfries in September this year and archaeologists were terrified it would be raided by “nighthawkers”.

An insider at Historic Scotland said: “We got a local farmer to put a bull in the field where the hoard was found.

“That’s not in any of the field guides.”

The source added that nighthawkers most usually strike at night once digging at the site has already started.

But such was the remoteness of the site - and it’s importance - that unusual measures were taken.

“Usually we’d contact the police to give them notice of where the site is and others do the same,” said the source.

“The best way to deal with it is to keep the site a secret for as long as possible.

A Scottish Livestock specialist, who asked not to be named, said the bull was a good choice - and not as dangerous as it might sound.

“Bulls, because of their size, are intimidating,” he said. “But they’re not necessarily any more aggressive than a cow. Potentially the most dangerous is a recently calved cow.”

He added: “Bulls could weigh half a tonne. It’s the reputation of the animal and because of their sheer size and weight.”

The bull patrolled the site where more than 100 objects were discovered by metal detectorist Derek McLennan, 47.

The hoard including a sealed bronze pot, gold, silver ingots, decorative broaches and Viking arm rings.

Historic Scotland, the Scottish Government and the Treasure Trove Unit were all contacted and all declined to comment.


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