The Galloway Hoard exhibition opens to the public at the Aberdeen Art Gallery


The Galloway Hoard, one of Britain’s most significant archaeological discoveries of the century, will be on display from Saturday 30 July at the Aberdeen Art Gallery, with even more fascinating finds unveiled.

Beads and trinkets were grouped together

The exhibition in Aberdeen will feature images of three recently revealed gold filigree objects from the Treasury, which were bound with rare silk braids.

These were wrapped in a textile bundle too fragile to display and which is currently being investigated in Edinburgh as part of ongoing searches for the treasure.

New insights into the rich variety of textiles from the Galloway Hoard, a material that rarely survives being buried in the ground, will also be unveiled. Researchers from the University of Glasgow have identified up to 12 different textiles in the hoard.

These recent research findings are the subject of a new interactive exhibit created for the Aberdeen leg of the tour.

Gold filigree objects are often referred to as “aestels”, instruments that were previously thought to hold a piece of bone or wood and be used as a pointer to follow text when reading. This is the first time that a group of these gold objects have been found together and the associated textiles provide new clues to their use.

The presence of braided silk in the sockets of the gold objects shows that they were all connected and this new evidence casts doubt on the previous categorization. Further research will be conducted on their true purpose and use.

The exhibit, Galloway Hoard: Viking-age Treasure, offers the first chance to see details hidden for over a thousand years, revealed through expert curation, careful cleaning and cutting-edge research. The exhibition is traveling with support from the Scottish Government.

The Galloway Hoard is the richest collection of rare and unique Viking Age artefacts ever found in Britain or Ireland. Buried around the year 900, the treasure brings together an astonishing variety of objects and materials in a single discovery.

Dr Chris Breward, Director of National Museums Scotland, said: “The Galloway Hoard has repeatedly attracted international attention, both to its discovery and acquisition by National Museums Scotland and to the fascinating discoveries made since through our research program. The exhibition is a fabulous opportunity to see the treasure much more clearly than before and to get a glimpse of the incredibly detailed work we have done and continue to do in order to better understand it.

Culture Secretary Angus Robertson said: ‘The Galloway Hoard is one of the most important collections of artefacts ever discovered in Scotland. The National Museums Scotland Treasure Exhibition Tour provides a unique opportunity for the Scottish public and visitors to view its many treasures.

“There have been record visits to the exhibition in Kirkcudbright and this wonderful opportunity is now moving to Aberdeen. conservation work and the visit.

Councilor Martin Greig, Aberdeen City Council’s culture spokesman, said: ‘This exhibition gives locals a welcome opportunity to appreciate this fascinating treasure. The exhibit allows us to appreciate the intricate craftsmanship and consider the historical significance of these intriguing objects.

“They belong to everyone, so I hope as many people as possible will visit this important example of our shared heritage.

“It is particularly fortunate that the Book of the Stag can also be seen locally at this time. Together these artefacts raise many questions about the culture and identity of Scotland from the early Middle Ages. It is important to to have objects like these on display in Aberdeen because inspecting and interpreting these kinds of artefacts helps us understand how modern Scotland came to be.

The exhibit shows how the treasure was buried in four separate plots.

The top layer consisted of a bundle of silver bars and a rare Anglo-Saxon cross, separated by a lower layer into three parts: first another bundle of leather-wrapped silver bars and two times larger than the one above; second, a group of four richly decorated silver arm rings bound together and concealing within them a small wooden box containing three gold coins; and third, a lidded gilt silver vessel wrapped in layers of textile and filled with carefully wrapped objects that appear to have been kept as relics or heirlooms.

They include beads, pendants, brooches, bracelets, and other trinkets, often strung or wrapped in silk.

Uncovering and decoding the secrets of The Galloway Hoard is a multi-tiered process.

The preservation of metal objects has revealed decorations, inscriptions and other details that were not visible before. Research into many aspects of the Treasury is ongoing and will take many years. Some objects are too fragile to be displayed, especially those with rare textile remains.

The exhibition will use audiovisual and 3D reconstructions to allow visitors to understand these objects and the work that is done with them.

Meanwhile, the search continues in the Galloway Hoard. The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) has awarded support for a three-year, £1 million research project, Unwrapping the Galloway Hoard, led by National Museums Scotland in partnership with the University of Glasgow, which began in June.

The Kirkcudbright exhibit was updated in December with a digital display detailing new research into a rock crystal jar, part of the treasure that has remained in Edinburgh for study and preservation. Removal of the fragile textile wrappings revealed an inscription bearing the name ‘Hyguald’, believed to be a bishop of Northumbria. The revelation led to national and international media coverage for the treasure and for the exhibition in Kirkcudbright, where it attracted a record number of visitors of over 40,000.

The Galloway Hoard was discovered in 2014.

It was acquired by National Museums Scotland in 2017 with support from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the Art Fund and the Scottish Government, as well as a major public fundraising campaign. Since then it has been the subject of extensive conservation and research at the National Museums Collection Center in Edinburgh.

The Galloway Hoard will eventually go on long-term display at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, with a significant and representative part of it also on long-term display at the Kirkcudbright Galleries.

The exhibition is accompanied by a book detailing the most recent research results and will be supported by a range of digital and learning activities and resources.


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