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Scotland's Early Silver

Discover the story of Scotland’s early silver and how this precious metal helped to shape the first kingdoms of Scotland.
Exhibition information


13 October 2017 - 25 February 2018


National Museum of Scotland, Exhibition Gallery 2, Level 3

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Featuring spectacular objects dating from AD75 to AD1000, and supported by The Glenmorangie Research Project on Early Medieval Scotland, Scotland’s Early Silver explores the part that silver played in the transformation of society in Scotland throughout the first millennium AD.

Today gold is more valuable than silver, but in the first millennium AD silver was the most powerful material in Scotland. Scotland’s earliest silver arrived with the Roman army and had a lasting impact on local society, quickly becoming associated with prestige and power.

In the centuries that followed, Roman silver objects were hacked and melted down to make iconic early medieval treasures like the massive silver chains. By AD700 the silver had been recycled many times and was used to make powerful objects such as the famous Hunterston Brooch.

  • Norries Law plaques

    Leaf-shaped plaques of silver bearing two Pictish symbols found on early medieval sculptured stones, from Norrie's Law, Fife. Left: 6th-7th century A; right: 19th-century copy

  • Traprain Law Leopard

    Silver handle in the shape of a leopard, from Traprain Law, 410 - 425 AD.

  • Hunterston Brooch

    Hunterston Brooch, an early Christian brooch with panels of gold filigree in Celtic and Anglo-Saxon styles, c. 700 AD.

  • Borland Silver

    Silver chain, composed of twenty pairs of rings plus a single link to connect to the terminal, from Borland Farm, Walston, Lanarkshire.

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Scotland’s Early Silver follows three years of research supported by The Glenmorangie Company.

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