conserving the galloway hoard
caring for a unique assemblage of VIKING-AGE artefacts
The Galloway Hoard was retrieved by metal-detectorist Derek McLennan et al in September 2014. The hoard is the richest collection of Viking-age artefacts discovered in Britain. Comprising silver ingots & armbands, a silver-gilt Carolingian vessel filled to the brim with beads, brooches and gold, the most significant treasure is the wealth of organic material present.
Under the Historic Environment Scotland conservation call-off contract, AOC Archaeology Group's conservators carried out a programme of preliminary analysis to facilitate the Treasure Trove Unit valuation process, and conservation assessment to ensure the artefacts were stable until deposited with the receiving institution: National Museums of Scotland.
Conservation work included the decant of the vessel, x-radiography and XRF analysis to establish the artefacts and materials present. Specialist textile study was commissioned which confirmed the importance of the organic materials within the hoard, including the presence of silk samite.
The decant of the silver-gilt Carolingian container discovered an eclectic collection of precious objects including glass beads and charms, gold ingots, silver brooches, and high-status ecclesiastical-style artefacts.
Highlights revealed by the analysis included identification of hidden gold objects wrapped in 2 separate bundles comprising layers of high-quality textiles; one containing a set of aestals, and the other a cut-crystal gold- filigree decorated vessel. The careful conservation work has preserved the original and extraordinary context of the gold treasure in their special organic wrappers while allowing their identification and valuation for the Treasure Trove process.
The preliminary analysis and assessment carried out by AOC Archaeology conservators has recovered and preserved a wealth of information for future study by specialists whose work will shed new light on Viking Age artefacts.