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A bird-shaped gold pin from the Galloway Viking Hoard
The heraldscotland reports that –
A campaign has been launched to ensure a 1,000-year-old Viking hoard found buried in a Dumfries and Galloway field stays in the local area. 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. More here.
The Bridge of Brodgar, Orkney in 1875 by Walter Hugh Patton (1828-1895)
Source Wikimedia Commons
For those interested in archaeology, and ancient Britain, tonight’s program on BBC TWO from 9.00pm to 10.00pm should make fascinating viewing –
Orkney – seven miles off the coast of Scotland and cut off by the tumultuous Pentland Firth, the fastest flowing tidal race in Europe – is often viewed as being remote. Yet it is one of the treasure troves of archaeology in Britain. Recent discoveries there are turning the stone age map of Britain upside down. Rather than an outpost at the edge of the world, recent finds suggest an extraordinary theory… that Orkney was the cultural capital of our ancient world and the origin of the stone circle cult which culminated in Stonehenge.
More here.
The Stone of Ballater by James Drummond (1852)
The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS)
The Ring of Brodgar: Unesco World Heritage Site
Image credit Alamy Stock Photo
Kevin McKenna, writing in The Observer, reports that, “British archaeologists have never had it so good. The Orkney Ness of Brodgar site is changing perceptions of neolithic man. More than 600 miles south, a bronze-age find is being hailed as ‘Britain’s Pompeii’. But funds are tight.”
The story started, one anointed day in March 2003, with a curious stone slab on a finger of Orkney hemmed in by seas. Nick Card, of the University of Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute, remembers that it was a typically cold and wet day. He was accompanied by his departmental colleague, Professor Jane Downes, and Julie Gibson, the county archaeologist. What they encountered that day has changed their lives and changed Orkney. Ness of Brodgar was a sacred place that defined the passage of time.
What lay beneath their feet, as they discovered bit by bit over the next 12 years, was the world’s greatest neolithic find in the modern era: a complex settlement of buildings and structures made 4,500 years ago which is turning on its head our understanding and perception of this era and its people.
The Council for British Archaeology has designated the last two weeks in July as Britain’s Festival of Archaeology, with hundreds of digs and visits being arranged all over Britain. The organisers couldn’t have picked a better time for their festival. Some 650 miles south of Orkney, at Whittlesey in Cambridgeshire, archaeologists are still in the first stages of wonder at an extraordinary bronze age site that they have begun to describe as “Britain’s Pompeii”.
More here.
Celtic gilt buckle found in the grave of a Danish Viking woman
Image credit Museum Østjylland
David DeMar, writing in the New Historian, reports 22 March on the discovery of a Celtic gilt buckle found in the grave of a Danish Viking woman –
The six-centimeter gilt buckle, which had once been used as a clasp on a petticoat, dates to somewhere between 900 to 1,000 years in the past and was buried with its female owner. The find is a rare one, as the workmanship and design of the artifact was common to contemporary Irish or Scottish bronze working.
Additionally, the researchers involved in the study of the disc unanimously agreed that it had not begun life as a petticoat buckle; instead it was likely pried off a religious wooden box and then stolen in a Viking raid. Stidsing  [Ernst Stidsing, archaeologist at the Museum of East Jutland] pointed out that such objects simply weren’t traded, meaning that some church or monastery – possibly a pre-Christian one – was looted through good old-fashioned plunder. The bronze ornament itself has been dated to approximately 800 CE; the grave, in comparison, is about a century younger.
More here.
The vandalised Rune Stone at Orkney’s Neolithic Ring of Brodgar
BBC News NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland, reports on the recently vandalised Rune Stone at Orkney’s Neolithic Ring of Brodgar –
A tour guide discovered the initials ‘AA 2015’ scratched into one of the stones while visiting the site. Police Scotland and Historic Scotland have both been informed of the vandalism. It is believed it took place sometime between Monday and Thursday [last week].
The Ring of Brodgar – the third largest stone circle in the British Isles – is regarded as one of Western Europe’s most impressive prehistoric sites.
More on the vandalism here.

Castlehill Heritage Centre in Castletown, Scotland
AOC Archaeology Group & Castletown Heritage Society 2015

Summer 2015 sees the launch of en exciting new community archaeology initiative from Castletown Heritage Society: A Window on the Hidden Bronze Age Landscape of Caithness. This innovative project represents a new chapter in the exploration of Caithness’ prehistoric past, using cutting-edge technology to identify and select features for investigation. Targeted archaeological survey and excavation will be carried out by volunteers under the guidance of archaeologists from AOC Archaeology Group, as part of a structure summer school. Training will be central to the project’s aims, with participants learning new skills or building on previous experience. Castlehill Heritage Centre will be the project’s central hub, with indoor learning sessions, evening events and crafts workshops taking place there throughout the summer and into the autumn.

More here.


A gold pin from the Dumfries and Galloway Viking Hoard
Church of Scotland

The Church of Scotland reports yesterday that –

A hoard of Viking treasure described as the largest found in modern times has been discovered on land owned by the Church of Scotland. The historically significant find was made by Derek McLennan, a committed metal detector enthusiast who has been searching around the area in Dumfries and Galloway for the last year. The hoard contains more than one hundred artefacts, many of which are unique. They are now in the care of the Treasure Trove Unit and considered to be of international importance.

The hoard falls under the Scots law of treasure trove, and is currently in the care of the Treasure Trove Unit. The law provides for a reward to be made to the finder which is judged equivalent to the market value of the items. The Church of Scotland General Trustees, as the landowners, have reached agreement with Derek about an equitable sharing of any proceeds which will eventually be awarded. Secretary to the General Trustees, David Robertson said “We are very excited to have been part of such an historic find and we commend Derek for the spirit in which he has worked with us and the other agencies involved in making sure everything is properly registered and accounted for. Any money arising from this will first and foremost be used for the good of the local parish. We recognise Derek is very responsible in pursuing his interest, but we do not encourage metal detecting on Church land unless detailed arrangements have been agreed beforehand with the General Trustees.”

The location of the find is not being revealed. The Scottish Government, Treasure Trove Unit and Historic Scotland are all involved in ensuring the area is properly protected while the full historical significance of the site is established. The objects within the hoard will now undergo painstaking conservation work, revealing their secrets and preserving them for future generations.

Full Church of Scotland article here.


Glasgow’s internationally famous School of Art, designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, and built at the end of the 19th – beginning of the 20th century, has been seriously damaged by a fire that appears to have started when a projector exploded in the basement of the art school at 12:30 today.
BBC News Glasgow & West Scotland reports here.
Writing for the Stornoway Gazette, Chris Murray reports on the campaign to secure World Heritage Status for Callanish –
The Callanish Stones should have World Heritage Site (WHS) status and people are being asked to back a campaign to make that happen. Despite being as old as Stonehenge – which already has WHS status – and being one of the most important prehistoric sites in Europe, the Callanish Stones which date back as far as 3,000 BC are currently without such a designation.
Scotland has just five World Heritage Sites including St Kilda which has joint status for its natural and cultural qualities. A long process of nomination is involved in gaining the international recognition but it can bring huge economic benefits and this could get underway now for the Callanish Stones. The Stornoway Gazette is now taking forward a campaign to have the Callanish Stones considered on a list of potential WHS as Editor Melinda Gillen explains: “It is an absolute travesty that Callanish is not already a World Heritage Site. It is the best known landmark in Lewis and Harris and is visited by the majority of visitors to the islands. It would be great to see it attain this designation.”
Full article and online poll here.
Proposed St Kilda Centre on the Isle of Lewis
TravelMole reports yesterday that –

The proposed St Kilda Centre on the Isle of Lewis has been recognised as a “key case study” of global importance after UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee adopted a sustainable tourism strategy aimed at increasing local economic benefits from internationally-significant sites.

Meeting recently in St Petersburg, delegates from 150 countries backed a programme to co-ordinate and influence tourism developments at World Heritages sites, of which there are fewer than 1,000 world-wide. Most have little or no tourism infrastructure around them while others suffer the threat of over-exposure to commercial tourism.

The document states: “If undertaken responsibly, tourism can be a driver for preservation and conservation of cultural and natural heritage and a vehicle for sustainable development. “But if unplanned, or not properly managed, tourism can be socially, culturally and economically disruptive and have a devastating effect on fragile environments and local communities”.

St Kilda is one of five World Heritage sites in Scotland and one of only 29 in the world with a double designation, recognising both its outstanding natural and cultural history.

Full article here.



May 2022
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