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 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.
Piece of hacked Roman silver from Traprain Law.
Portion of a silver-gilt penannular brooch decorated with animal heads with bared teeth, Pictish, from St Ninian's Isle, Shetland, 8th century.
Half of a shallow silver bowl decorated with the head of Hercules, and featuring hunting scenes on the outside, from Traprain Law, East Lothian, AD 410–425.
Massive silver chain, made from pairs of solid links and fastened with a penannular clasp decorated with Pictish symbols, from Parkhill, Aberdeenshire, AD 400–600.
Silver handles in the shape of a leopard, from Traprain Law, East Lothian, AD 410–425.
Hunterston Brooch, a solid silver brooch covered in a thin layer of gold, from Hunterston, Ayrshire, AD 650–750.
Silver chainwith a penannular clasp from Borland Farm, Walston, Lanarkshire.
Silver pennanular brooch with gilded interlaced ornamentation, from Rogart, Sutherland, AD 700–800.
Roman coin hoard found at Birnie, Elgin, Moray.
Part of a flat silver plate showing Venus rising from the waves, from Traprain Law, 410 - 425 AD and fragments of two other silver plates.
Part of a hacked and squashed beast-headed brooch from the Gaulcross hoard, Aberdeenshire.
Silver spoon bowl decorated with an engraved fish engraved, from Traprain Law, 410 - 425 AD.
Silver pins from Norrie’s Law, Fife and Covesea, Moray.
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.
Scotland’s Early Silver follows three years of research supported by The Glenmorangie Company.
13 Oct 2017 - 25 Feb 2018
Exhibition Gallery 2, Level 3
Museum nan Eilean, Lews Castle
3 May – 23 June 2018
7 July – 30 September 2018
Duff House, Banff
12 October 2018 – 17 March 2019