Viking hoard to go on display in Edinburgh within weeks
Around 70 highlights from the Galloway Hoard will be able to be seen for the first time at the National Museum of Scotland from 16 June.
The museum, which is currently the country’s most popular attraction, will be displaying the array of gold, silver and jewelled treasures to help publicise a campaign to raise nearly £2 million to secure the 10th century hoard for the nation.
The museum, which was allocated the Galloway Hoard by an independent panel last month, has also outlined plans to take some of the treasures on tour around the country.
It has also pledged to ensure that the entire hoard, described by experts as one of the most important Viking discoveries ever made in Britain, will occasionally be allowed to go on display in Dumfries and Galloway.
Campaigners trying to secure the hoard, which is currently the property of the Crown, for a new art gallery in Kirkcudbright were left dismayed earlier this month when it emerged that it would be heading to Edinburgh instead.
The Scottish Government has urged the National Museum and Dumfries and Galloway Council to strike a “partnership agreement” over the long-term future of the hoard which would ensure that the area where the treasures were found can benefit from the discovery.
Metal detectorist Derek McLennan, from Ayrshire, discovered the hoard in a field on church land near Kirkcudbright in August 2014.
The National Museum has previously only pledged to ensure that part of the hoard would be allowed to go on long-term display in Galloway.
However a “portion” of the hoard will also remain on permanent display in Edinburgh under the proposals to ensure they are seen by as many people as possible.
Museum director Dr Gordon Rintoul said proposals for the whole hoard to go on display in Kirkcudbright “from time to time” and for the touring exhibition had been discussed with Dumfries and Galloway Council for several months.
He said: “Before the pot containing the hoard was opened up people were talking about it being worth around half a million pounds.
“Everyone now realises the hoard is far more varied and far more important than was felt to be the case at the beginning.
“My team’s view is that it is the most important Viking hoard to ever be discovered in Britain or Ireland, due to the most amazing range of items.
“We will able to put on display a number of them next month to use as a focal point for our fundraising efforts as we don’t own the hoard yet.
“A lot of the hoard will required detailed conservation work which could take a couple of years to carry out, but people will be able to see some objects before they are properly conserved.
“We will only be able to include items that it is safe to put on display without any conservation work taking place.
“A lot of them will be simply too fragile or need too much work done to them to be put on display at the moment.”
A spokesman for Dumfries and Galloway Council said: “We aere aware of the offers made by the National Museum of Scotland and we have had a number of discussions in relation to the Galloway Hoard, and how it can be exhibited in our region.
“We will take a report to elected members next month that will set out the council’s position and seek member approval on how we can develop a partnership approach with the National Museum.
“We are also looking forward to the meeting that is due to be convened by culture secretary Fiona Hyslop to discuss the Viking Hoard and find a suitable way forward that suits all stakeholders.”