Discover the story of Scotland’s early silver and how this precious metal helped to shape the first kingdoms of Scotland.
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 up, melted down and recycled to make iconic early medieval treasures like massive silver chains and ornate brooches.
Part of a Roman engraved silver fish plate, from the Traprain Law Treasure, East Lothian, buried 400-450 AD.
Part of a hacked and squashed beast-headed penannular brooch from the Gaulcross hoard, Aberdeenshire, 400-500 AD.
Massive silver chain found in digging the Caledonian Canal at Torvean, near Inverness, 300-500 AD.
Pictish silver bowl with interlaced decoration, from St Ninian's Isle, Shetland, 8th century AD.
Roman silver necklace with a wheel ornament and crescent-shaped pendant, Newstead, Borders, 80-100 AD.
Silver penannular brooch, pin missing, with plain terminals and twisted hoop, from Norrie's Law, Fife, 350-550 AD.
Roman silver serving vessel which could be inverted to serve as a platter, from the Traprain Law Treasure, East Lothian, buried 400-450 AD.
Pictish silver-gilt penannular brooch with animal-head terminals, from St Ninian's Isle, Shetland, 8th century AD.
Top of a Roman silver flask with gilding and niello-inlaid decoration, from the Traprain Law Treasure, buried 400 - 450 AD.
Roman silver vessel handles in the shape of panthers, from the Traprain Law Treasure, buried 400-450 AD.
The exhibition includes the recently discovered Dairsie Hoard, which dates to the late 3rd century AD and is the earliest known example of hacksilver from anywhere beyond the Roman frontier.
Also continuing on its first full public display is the Gaulcross hoard, discovered in Aberdeenshire in 2013. Since its excavation, this hoard has cast new light on how early Roman silver was recycled and repurposed over the centuries.
Scotland’s Early Silver follows three years of research supported by The Glenmorangie Company.