Dozens of medieval finds reported in this year’s Treasure Trove of Scotland

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The Scottish government has released the latest annual Treasure Trove report, which reveals several dozen new finds from the medieval period. The report, which covers the period 1 April 2010 – 31 March 2011, details some of the exciting new archaeological finds and payments given out to people who discovered these historical artifacts.

Catherine Dyer, the Queen’s and Lord Treasurer’s Remembrancer, said, “The Report confirms that this has been another magnificent year with some outstanding finds being reported, preserved and displayed in breathtaking museum collections around Scotland. Once again I would like to praise the dedicated work of the Scottish Archaeological Finds Allocation Panel, the National Museums of Scotland, the Treasure Trove Unit and the QLTR office. Thanks should also be given to the hundreds of members of the public who report their finds and in doing so assist in preserving the history of Scotland for all to enjoy.”

The richest discovery was of four golden neck ornaments – known as torcs, that date back over 2000 years. They were found by David Booth, who was using a metal detector near his home in Stirling. This find has been valued at £462,000.

Medieval finds include:

13th century Papal Bulla, Culross, Fife

A papal bulla of Pope Gregory IX (papacy from 1227-1241), Bulla were lead seal used to authenticate documents and communications issued from the Vatican and as such were an integral part of the Europe wide bureaucracy which underpinned the medieval church. However this example has been reused, having been pierced at the top for suspension. This has been carefully done so that the figures of St Peter and St Paul on the reverse of the bulla are correctly oriented and suggests that the bulla was converted to be worn around the neck much like a pilgrim badge. This is an unusual example of a mundane item of ecclesiastical bureaucracy being transformed into one of personal significance.

Medieval dagger pommel, Blairdrummond, Stirling

An elaborate and unusual dagger pommel decorated on both sides with heraldic shields on both blue and red enamels. This object is typical of the work produced in the French workshops of Limoges in the 13th century and there is a remarkably similar pommel in the National Museums Scotland collections which was found in Fortingall; it is likely both were made in the same workshop.

Silver penny of William the Lion, Prestonpans, East Lothian

The popularity of metal detecting has meant that far more is now known about early Scottish coinage, and this is an important specimen minted under the reign of William the Lion c.1165-74. The coin has been neatly cut in half, an ad hoc solution to ‘small change’ when these pennies were the smallest denomination available. This coin belongs to an issue from which only one other specimen is known —which is in the National Museums Scotland collections- but this example has a different obverse die.

Swivel ring and mount for a medieval hunting leash


This is an unusual complete example of a swivel fitting for a dog leash, comprising a freely rotating mount with attachments for two separate leashes. Such leashes were used to control dogs during hunting where the swilling element would prevent the leashes being fouled or caught. The fitting is rather small and is presumably for a pair of scent hounds or dogs for small game such as hare. Hunting held a particular place in medieval culture, putting an emphasis on particular behaviour and virtues. It was in short, a social setting where an individual could show themselves to advantage and this objects reflects this social setting; finely decorated, it is an object to be admired and to reflect the status of the owner as much as it is a utilitarian object.

Click here to read the 2010-2011 Scotland Treasure Trove Report

Source: Government of Scotland

Sharan Newman