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Roman and Pictish Silver Hoard Unearthed In Scotland

A hoard of valuable hack-silver, believed to be dated between the 4th and 6th century A.D, was uncovered by archaeologists in northeastern Scotland.


The hoard of over 100 pieces of silver consisted of broken up segments of jewelry, coins and other valuable items. The dazzling cache of precious metal was discovered by groups of archaeologists from the National Museums Scotland and researchers from the University of Aberdeen’s Northern Picts Project. The stash was unearthed in a rural field, a short distance from the Scottish town of Aberdeenshire. This most recent finding is currently the northern most European discovery of a hack-silver hoard; belonging to the Late Roman and Pictish people.

Hack-silver is, small fragments or bent pieces of silver that derived from a much larger silver object.

It is theorized that, the reason why the original owners had mangled or ‘hacked-up’ their valuable possessions, was to convert them into a more marketable economic condition, such as silver bullion. Once the items were altered into scrap silver, it could be either melted into a brick or sold ‘as is’ by weight; regardless of what the original objects value was. Converting the metal into hack-silver was a popular practice among Vikings for easier transport and exchange; the Norseman would alter their ill-gotten booty by breaking down silver to be melted into silver bricks.

The Picts were a group of Confederate tribes who were indigenous to eastern and northern Scotland. These primitive people thrived during the late Iron Age through the early Medieval eras. They were believed to speak a Celtic  dialect, but currently the Pitish language is considered to be extinct. Researchers believe that the Pit people’s culture and existence slowly dwindled as they were absorbed into the Gaelic Kingdom of Dal Riata, who would eventually become modern Scotland today.

Not only was this most recent find significant, due to its location, but the discovery also illustrates the presence of the Pictish communities in the larger kingdoms of the early medieval time period.

After the findings were publicly revealed during the mid-summer of this year, the Glenmorangie Company announced their decision to sponsor the National Museums Scotland for the next  three years in their study of early medieval Scotland. The sponsored project will allow a more in-depth study into the importance of silver in Scotland during the years spanning 300-900 A.D.

This most recent hoard is just one of  the many that are speculated to still be lost or forgotten across Europe.


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