Metal Detectorist Unearths Extremely Rare 1,000-Year-Old Viking Treasure on Isle of Man

March 15, 2021 Updated: March 15, 2021

An amateur treasure hunter has uncovered a hoard of Viking artifacts that is believed to have been buried on the Isle of Man more than 1,000 years ago.

The collection includes treasures such as a large silver brooch and an exceedingly rare solid gold arm-band. The find is a momentous discovery, dated roughly A.D. 950 and estimated to be worth several thousand pounds, the Manx National Heritage Museum said in a statement.

It has already been declared official treasure by the Coroner of Inquests and will be displayed at the Manx National Heritage Museum located in Douglas, Isle of Man, according to the statement.

Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of Simon Park Photography)

The buried treasure was unearthed by a retired police officer and metal detectorist, Kath Giles.

Lynsey Clague, the communications manager at Manx National Heritage Museum, told The Epoch Times that Giles relocated to the Isle of Man after retirement and has since taken up amateur treasure hunting.

Remarkably, this is Giles’s “third notable find” since moving to the Island, Clague said.

Clague added that Giles’s previous discoveries include a Bronze Age axehead and sword, both of which were donated to the Manx National Heritage Museum.

Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of Simon Park Photography)

Giles found the treasure with her metal detector in December last year, on private farmland at the north of the island. She knew she’d uncovered something “significant and exciting” the moment she saw the treasure.

“I am so thrilled to have found artifacts that are not only so important, but so beautiful!” Giles said in the statement.

“I knew I had found something very special when I moved the soil away from one of the terminals of the brooch, but then I found parts of the pin, the hoop, and underneath, the gorgeous gold arm-ring.”

The braided gold arm-band features a flat band at the center, stamped with a decorative design, according to the statement.

Allison Fox, the curator for archaeology with Manx National Heritage, said in the statement that they received a phone call from Kath late last year, informing them of the discovery.

“With Kath’s help, we were able to document the site and ensure there were no further objects remaining in the ground,” Fox said.

“The arm-ring is a rare find. Gold items were not very common during the Viking Age. Silver was by far the more common metal for trading and displaying wealth. It has been estimated that gold was worth 10 times the value of silver and that this arm-ring could have been the equivalent of 900 silver coins,” Fox added.

Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of Manx National Heritage)

The silver brooch is “one of the largest examples of its type ever discovered,” the statement noted. Known as a “thistle brooch of ball type,” it features a ring and a pin with intricate designs. Despite the pin being broken at the center, the brooch set is complete and exceedingly rare.

The arm-ring and brooch are also the first of their type ever discovered on the Isle of man. The discovery reflects “significantly” the wealth circulating on the Island and in the area around the Irish Sea over one thousand years ago, according to the statement.

“Vikings arrived on the Isle of Man in the 800s, firstly trading and eventually settling,” Fox said. “Kath’s hoard can be dated on stylistic and comparative grounds to around A.D. 950, a time when the Isle of Man was right in the middle of an important trading and economic zone.”

Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of Manx National Heritage)

Fox added that the “Viking rule was coming to an end” at that time, and it’s possible that this dynamic caused some groups of Vikings to move to the Island.

“The Viking and Norse influence remained strong on the Island for a further three hundred years, long after much of the rest of the British Isles,” Fox said. “The arm-ring, brooch, and cut armband are all high-status personal ornaments and represent a large amount of accumulated wealth. Finding just one of these items would be of significance.”

This, coupled with the fact that the treasure pieces were all found together, suggests that they were buried by someone quite wealthy who felt they were in immediate danger, Fox said.

The location of the discovery and the landowner’s identity are being kept confidential to preserve the dig site, but the treasure will be on display at Manx National Heritage Museum.

“Manx National Heritage would like to sincerely thank both the finder and landowners for all their support and assistance with this remarkable discovery,” she added.

(Courtesy of Manx National Heritage)

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