Treasures found by public in Outer Hebrides go on show

A late 18th Century cob, or coin, mined in Bolivia and found on Benbecula by a local woman in her garden. PIC: Museum nan Eilean.
A late 18th Century cob, or coin, mined in Bolivia and found on Benbecula by a local woman in her garden. PIC: Museum nan Eilean.
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Archaeological finds made by chance across the Outer Hebrides are to go on show in an island museum.

The new exhibition of artefacts will open at Museum nan Eilean U&B , Lionacleit, Benbecula, next month.

The objects include ‘stray finds’ reported over recent years by members of the public as well as some artefacts recovered during archaeological excavations at Beirigh, Cnip and Dun Eisdean on the Isle of Lewis.

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All pieces give a fascinating glimpse in island life over thousands of years, from the Neolithic era to the late 18th Century.

One of the key items to go on show is a silver cob - a type of coin - which was found in Aird, Benbecula, by a local lady whilst gardening.

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Caitriona McCuish, museum development officer, said: “This type of coinage is really interesting as it is made with silver from the mines at Potosi in Bolivia which was in operation between 1574 and 1773.”

Ms McCuish said the coin likely dated to 1769 with the silver also marked with the figure eight to denote the denomination - a piece of eight.

Ms McCuish added: “It is worn and polished and may have been worn as a pendant but other than the piercing it has not been significantly altered and looks similar to how it would have been produced.

“The mints of South America were concerned not with striking nice coins, but making as many as possible to ship to Spain.”

The collection also includes an Iron Age stone mould for casting metal pins, which was found at Baleshare, North Uist, by a local woman.

A medieval posy ring discovered at Ness, Isle of Lewis will also go on show. The ring, traditionally given as a lover’s gift, features a gold band engraved with crosses and initials and is set with a pink stone, possibly a garnet.

A Neolithic arrowhead found on Taransay, Isle of Harris, also features.

The piece of weaponsry will sit alongside a piece of worked whalebone, which is heavily polished on one side and carved in the shape of a sword. The piece was found Hougharry, Isle of North Uist.

All items were treated as property of the Crown and handed to Treasure Trove Scotland for assessment.

The unit has now allocated a number of artefacts to Museum nan Eilean with a number of finds still under consideration.