A 1,000-year-old Viking hoard found buried in Galloway will go to the National Museum in Edinburgh, despite a campaign for it to remain in the county.
The Galloway Hoard, described by experts as an unparalleled find of Viking-age gold, silver and jewelled treasures, has been allocated to National Museums Scotland by the Queen’s and Lord Treasurer’s Remembrancer (QLTR).
Campaigners said the decision was “deeply disappointing”.
“This treasure was buried in Galloway for safekeeping 1,000 years ago – it is deeply disappointing that the QLTR believes it should be allocated to the National Museum in Edinburgh where it will potentially be lost amongst so many other wonderful artefacts,” said Cathy Agnew of the Galloway Viking Hoard Campaign (GVH).
The museum now has six months to secure funding of £1.98 million in order to acquire the hoard for the nation.
The objects were found inside a pot unearthed in 2014 and include rare items such as a gold bird-shaped pin, an enamelled Christian cross and silk from modern-day Istanbul as well as silver and crystal.
The items date from the ninth and 10th centuries and are part of a wider hoard of about 100 pieces, which experts say is the most important Viking discovery in Scotland for more than a century.
The hoard was discovered at an undisclosed location in the region by a metal detectorist.
Dr Gordon Rintoul, director of National Museums Scotland, said: “The Galloway Hoard is of outstanding international significance and we are absolutely delighted that the Queen’s and Lord Treasurer’s Remembrancer (QLTR) has decided to allocate it to National Museums Scotland.
“We now have six months to raise £1.98 million to acquire this unique treasure for the nation and ensure it can be enjoyed by future generations both at home and abroad.”
The decision is a bitter blow to the GVH, which backed local council proposals for the “extraordinary” treasure to have its permanent home in a specially-designed exhibition space at the new Kirkcudbright Art Gallery rather than at the National Museums Scotland in Edinburgh.
Campaigners have highlighted a growing trend for 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.
Agnew added: “This is a most unfortunate decision for the region and for Scotland. It is doubly disappointing that a more enlightened approach has not been taken, especially as 2017 is Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology.
“The support from the public, from academics, politicians of all parties, and so many others – across Scotland and the world – to keep the hoard in Galloway, where it would be cherished, has been magnificent. It is a real shame their voices and their passion have gone unheeded.
“Dumfries and Galloway Council’s bid was outstanding. It would have saved the hoard for the region and the nation in a superb, specially designed exhibition area at the new Kirkcudbright Gallery – near to where it was found.
“We very much hope that even at this late stage discussions will continue and a fair compromise can be reached.”