Hoards of sil­ver trea­sure span­ning 1,000 years set to sparkle at mu­seum

The Scotsman - - Features - By BRIAN FER­GU­SON Arts Cor­re­spon­dent

A hoard of Ro­man trea­sure found buried in a field by a 14-year-old school­boy is tak­ing cen­tre stage in a new ex­hi­bi­tion chart­ing how sil­ver be­came the most pre­cious metal in Scot­land for 1,000 years.

The frag­ments, drawn from four ves­sels of dif­fer­ent sizes be­fore they were hacked into pieces, were be­lieved to have been used as a bribe to peo­ple in Fife, where young metal de­tec­torist David Hall found them three years ago.

The Na­tional Mu­seum of Scot­land ex­hi­bi­tion re­veals the pow­er­ful roles sil­ver has played since it was in­tro­duced to Scot­land by the Ro­mans, through the early me­dieval pe­riod, and end­ing with the Vik­ing era.

The “bi­og­ra­phy of sil­ver” show explores how the first sil­ver to ar­rive in Scot­land was used to buy peace and al­lies beyond Ro­man fron­tiers.

It in­cludes some of the ear­li­est ex­am­ples of sil­ver re­cy­cling, known as “hack­sil­ver,” which saw sil­ver melted down and made into new sym­bols of power, in­clud­ing chains and brooches.

The ex­hi­bi­tion re­calls how hun­dreds of years of re­cy­cling the same sil­ver led to sup­plies be­com­ing scarce, di­luted and de­based by bronze added to make sup­plies last longer. The first new sources of sil­ver in al­most 1,000 years was to ar­rive with the Vik­ings.

Ex­hi­bi­tion re­searcher Alice Black­well said: “Sil­ver was the pre­cious metal of choice for

0 Ex­hi­bi­tion re­searcher Alice Black­well dis­plays some of the sil­ver­ware that will go on show at the mu­seum more than 1,000 years of Scot­land’s his­tory – it was im­por­tant in es­tab­lish­ing and com­mu­ni­cat­ing power and pres­tige. All the ev­i­dence we’ve amassed shows the pe­cu­liar spe­cial­ness of sil­ver in Scot­land, com­pared with Eng­land or the con­ti­nent, where it was al­ways gold. Scot­land is dif­fer­ent – this was a mil­len­nium of sil­ver.”

The ex­hi­bi­tion, Scot­land’s Early Sil­ver, tells how the hoard re­cov­ered at Dair­sie in Fife was placed between two an­cient stand­ing stones and a small peat bog, sug­gest­ing it was re­garded as a sa­cred place at the time. Con­ser­va­tors and cu­ra­tors faced a mam­moth “jig­saw puz­zle” with more than 300 frag­ments of sil­ver dat­ing back to the third cen­tury AD.

Other high­lights of the ex­hi­bi­tion, which runs un­til 25 Fe­bru­ary, in­clude a hoard of Ro­man sil­ver coins and ob­jects dis­cov­ered at Traprain Law, in East Loth­ian, in 1919.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.