The Galloway Hoard, one of the most important UK archaeological finds of the century will go on display from 30 July at Aberdeen Art Gallery, with yet more fascinating discoveries unveiled.
The exhibition in Aberdeen will feature never-before-seen images of gold filigree objects from the Hoard, which were bound together with rare silken braids. These were wrapped in a textile bundle too fragile to go on display, which is currently being investigated in Edinburgh as part of ongoing research into the Hoard.
New insights into the rich variety of textiles in the Hoard, which rarely survive such burials, will also be unveiled. Research partners from the University of Glasgow believe they have identified up to 12 different textiles in the Hoard. The recent findings are the subject of a new interactive display created for the Aberdeen leg of the tour.
Galloway Hoard: Viking-age Treasure, offers the chance to see details hidden for over a thousand years, revealed by expert conservation, painstaking cleaning and cutting-edge research. The exhibition is touring thanks to support from the Scottish Government.
The Galloway Hoard is the richest collection of rare and unique Viking-age objects ever found in Britain or Ireland. Buried around AD900, the Hoard brings together a stunning variety of objects and materials in one discovery.
Dr Chris Breward, Director of National Museums Scotland said,
“The Galloway Hoard has repeatedly drawn international attention, on its discovery and its acquisition by National Museums Scotland as well as through the amazing discoveries made since as we continue our research. The exhibition is a fabulous opportunity to see the Hoard far more clearly than before and to gain an insight into the amazingly detailed work that we have done and are continuing to do in order that we can understand it more fully.”
Culture Minister Neil Gray said:
The Galloway Hoard is one of the most important collections of artefacts ever discovered in Scotland. National Museums Scotland’s exhibition tour of the Hoard will provide a unique opportunity for audiences in Scotland and visitors to view its many treasures. I am particularly pleased that the Scottish Government was able to provide £150,000 towards its acquisition, with a further £150,000 towards the conservation work and tour.
The exhibition shows how the Hoard was buried in four distinct parcels. The top layer was a parcel of silver bullion and a rare Anglo-Saxon cross, separated from a lower layer of three parts: firstly another parcel of silver bullion wrapped in leather and twice as big as the one above; secondly a cluster of four elaborately decorated silver ‘ribbon’ arm-rings bound together and concealing in their midst a small wooden box containing three items of gold; and thirdly a lidded, silver gilt vessel wrapped in layers of textile and packed full of carefully wrapped objects that appear to be have been curated like relics or heirlooms. They include beads, pendants, brooches, bracelets and other curios, often strung or wrapped with silk.
Discovering and decoding the secrets of The Galloway Hoard is a multi-layered process. Conservation of the metal objects has revealed decorations, inscriptions and other details that were not previously visible. Research into many aspects of the Hoard continues and will take many years. Some items are too fragile to be displayed, particularly those with rare textile survivals. The exhibition will use AV and 3D reconstructions to enable visitors to understand these objects and the work that is being done with them.
The exhibition in Kirkcudbright was updated in December with a digital display detailing new research into a rock crystal jar, part of the Hoard which remained in Edinburgh for study and conservation. Removal of the fragile textile wrappings revealed an inscription bearing the name ‘Hyguald’, thought to be a Northumbrian bishop. The revelation led to national and international news coverage for the Hoard and for the exhibition in Kirkcudbright, where it attracted record-breaking visitor numbers. A further research update will be added to the display in Aberdeen.
The Galloway Hoard was discovered in 2014. It was acquired by National Museums Scotland in 2017 with the support of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, Art Fund and the Scottish Government as well as a major public fundraising campaign. Since then, it has been undergoing extensive conservation and research at the National Museums Collection Centre in Edinburgh.
Research meanwhile continues into the Galloway Hoard. The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) has awarded support for a £1m, three-year research project, Unwrapping the Galloway Hoard, led by National Museums Scotland in partnership with the University of Glasgow which commenced in June.
The Galloway Hoard will eventually go on long-term display at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh with a significant and representative portion of it also displayed long-term at Kirkcudbright Galleries.
The exhibition is accompanied by a book detailing the most up to date research findings and will be supported by a range of digital and learning activities and resources.
The Galloway Hoard: Viking-Age Treasure is a National Museums Scotland touring exhibition supported by the Scottish Government.Provided by Aberdeen City Council