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12.01.2021

Norrie's Law hoard

Norrie's Law hoard is a sixth-century silver hoard discovered in 1819 in a small mound in Largo, Fife , Scotland. Discovered by an unknown person or persons, much of the hoard was illegally sold or given away. The rest of the hoard was later found on the mound and given to the landowner General Philip Durham. The surviving treasure trove of 170 objects is now in the National Museum of Scotland. The treasure consists mainly of chopped silver and includes four complete silver coins.

Norrie's Law hoard trove is one of the largest pikes ever found. The treasure originally contained 12.5 kg of late Roman and Pictish silver. Less than 1 kilogram of the stockpile remains. The treasure trove, consisting of 170 objects made mostly of silver , also contains fully silver metalware, including a half-finished brooch, an oval leaf-shaped plate with Pictish symbols, a large hand pin, and a worn spiral ring. Incomplete items include a portion of a Roman spoon, a plate silversmith, and incomplete spiral bracelets. Pieces of cut and folded silver from the hoard were used to make their silver bars and were often sold or recycled into new items. The treasure also contained two late Roman coins that were melted down and sold shortly after the initial discovery.

The treasure was found in 1819 by an unknown discoverer or discoverers in a small mound known as Norrie's Law, which is located on Largo Manor in Fife. The mound was built of stones and was situated on a hillock of sand and gravel. The discovery occurred when anonymous searchers dug through the sand at the foot of the mound. The silver found at the site was given to a peddler, who later sold most of the items as scrap metal for remelting. Some items were given away.

Landowner General Durham learned of the hoard after most of the silver had been sold. He was able to find the remaining items of the treasure that had not been discovered in the first excavations. Durham kept the discovery of the treasure a secret for 20 years. In 1839, local antiquarian George Buist researched local accounts of the treasure and published a report of the discovery for the local archaeological society. Buist had tin copies of two items from the hoard, a decorated plaque and a large pin. General Durham died in 1845, leaving no descendants. The Largo estate passed to Lilas Dundas Calderwood Durham (Mrs. Robert Dundas of Arniston), who donated most of the surviving items of the hoard to the Scottish Antiquarian Society Museum, now the National Museum of Scotland, in 1864. The rest of the hoard was donated to the museum by her heir, Robert Dundas of Arniston, in 1883.

Fourth-century Roman coins from the hoard suggest that it must have been buried sometime after the early fifth century AD. More recent research by the Glenmorangie Research Project at the National Museum of Scotland dates the hoard to the sixth century AD. The research also showed that two silver replicas of the hoard items were made around 1839. Silver replicas of a Pictish plaque and a large pin were, until recently, thought to be original metal objects from the early Middle Ages.

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