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Unwrapping the Galloway Hoard

This 3-year project aims to challenge our understanding of the process of hoarding through an interdisciplinary study of one of the best-preserved hoards found in Britain.

Last updated: 21 March 2022

About the project

Buried around AD 900, and discovered in 2014 near Kirkcudbright, Dumfries and Galloway, the Galloway hoard is the richest, most varied and well-preserved collection of precious and exotic objects hoarded together in Viking-age Britain and Ireland.

Unusually, the Galloway Hoard contains both organic and inorganic artefacts, and evidence of accumulation with separate bundles and caches. In addition to containing silver and gold, the Galloway hoard is unique due to the preservation of textiles and leather that wrap the objects, creating the opportunity to investigate the process of gathering and preparing a hoard like never before.

Project details

Project title

Unwrapping the Galloway Hoard

Project active

2021 - 2024

Research theme

Scotland's Material Heritage


Dr Martin Goldberg - Principal Investigator
Senior Curator Early Medieval Medieval and Viking Collections, National Museums Scotland
Martin's interests include ancient religion, Christianity, Celtic art, early medieval material culture, sculpture, Pictish symbols, silver, hoards and hoarding practices. He co-authored Early Medieval Scotland: Individuals, Communities and Ideas (2012) and Scotland’s Earliest Silver (2017) based on research from National Museums Scotland’s award-winning partnership with The Glenmorangie Company. He has co-curated the 2013 Vikings exhibition (in partnership with the Swedish History museum) and Celts: art and identity (in partnership with the British Museum) contributing several essays for the accompanying (2015) book.

Dr Susanna Harris - Co-investigator
Lecturer in Archaeology at the School of Humanities, University of Glasgow
Susanna's research focuses on the analysis of archaeological material culture. She specialises in textiles, leather and basketry using scientific, theoretical and experimental approaches. Harris has co-edited two books: Wrapping and Unwrapping Material Culture: Archaeological and Anthropological Approaches and Why Leather? The material and cultural dimensions of leather. She teaches on the Material Culture and Artefact Studies MSc and modules including cloth and clothing at Honours and Postgraduate level.

Dr Alexandra Makin
Post-doctoral Research Associate, National Museums Scotland
Alexandra is a professional embroiderer and textile archaeologist specialising in the early medieval period. She is interested in processes of making and the place and meaning of embroidery and textiles within early medieval material culture. Her research is interdisciplinary involving scientific, theoretical, experimental, historical and art historical approaches. She has published a monograph, The Lost Art of the Anglo-Saxon World: the sacred and secular power of embroidery. She is co-editing a volume exploring collaborative working methods between researchers, conservators, curators and makers of Viking Age textiles and their decoration. Alexandra is interested in outreach, running the online blog Early Medieval (mostly) Textiles, workshops, giving talks and undertaking consultancy.

Scientific collaborators

The British Museum, London for the identification of wood and textiles fibres using high-powered microscopy.

Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre (SUERC, Glasgow) for radiocarbon dating program and Bayesian analysis.

Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage, Brussels, (IRPA / KIK), for the analysis of textile dyes using High Performance Liquid Chromotography (HPLC).

University of Glasgow Polyomics for the identification of leather species using proteomics.

X-ray computed tomography system at the Universities of Strathclyde and Glasgow


Goldberg, Martin, and Davis, Mary (2021). The Galloway Hoard: Viking-Age treasure. Edinburgh: National Museums Scotland.

Graham-Campbell, James (2020). 'The Galloway Hoard: Viking/Anglo-Saxon Interaction in South-West Scotland', in A. Pedersen & S. M. Sindbæk (eds), Viking Encounters. Proceedings of the Eighteenth Viking Congress, Denmark, August 6-12, 2017, 449–464. Aarhus: Aarhus Universitetsforlag.

For more multimedia outputs on the Galloway Hoard, including videos, podcasts, magazine articles and blogs, see the Galloway Hoard Collection by the National Museums Scotland Repository.

While the bulk of the hoard contains silver items recognised as forms of bullion, the presence of objects of glass, mineral, rock crystal and curated earthen balls do not fit traditional concepts of Viking-age wealth. A preliminary radiocarbon date (AD 670-780) of one of the textiles covering the lidded silver-gilt vessel is at least a century earlier than the silver bullion in the hoard (c.AD 900).

The composition and cumulative potency of bringing the Galloway hoard together provides an exciting opportunity to re-examine why, and how, people amassed, curated and buried objects. Through focusing on the process of assembling and collecting, this Unwrapping the Galloway Hoard project will provide numerous gateways into the wider Viking-age world. To do this we combine methods from digital imaging, artefact analysis, archaeological science and social theory.

Email icon Dr Martin Goldberg


This research is carried out in partnership between National Museums Scotland's and the University of Glasgow with £1 million in funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council

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