Posts Tagged With: Scotland

National Museums Scotland – introducing the collections….


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Scottish Treasure Trove found….


‘Magnificent’ Scottish treasure trove unearthed

Treasure troveThe annual Scottish Treasure Trove report details the wide range of items discovered across the country in the past year including a gold ring found in Fife

A wide range of historic and ancient items discovered across Scotland have been catalogued in the annual Treasure Trove report.

They include a Roman wine dipper found in the Borders, a historic brooch from the Highlands, and a gold ring discovered in Midlothian.

The Queen’s and Lord Treasurer’s Remembrancer (QLTR) Catherine Dyer said it had been another “magnificent year”.

She thanked members of the public who had reported their finds.

The latest report covers the period from 1 April 2013 to 31 March 2014.

Wine dipperA Roman wine dipper was discovered near Hawick in the Scottish Borders
Iron Age strap mountAn Iron Age strap mount was discovered at Dunbar in East Lothian
CrucifixA Medieval crucifix was found at Loch Leven

It details matters dealt with by the QLTR and the Scottish Archaeological Finds Allocation Panel (SAFAP).

Under Scots law, it is the prerogative of the Crown to receive “all lost and abandoned property which is not otherwise owned”.

The latest Treasure Trove report includes more than 800 objects discovered by more than 250 “finders”.

They are generally given a small ex gratia payment to recognise their contribution.

The items found included a gold Merovingian coin dating from the 7th Century discovered at Coldstream in the Borders.

Such coins were in use across England, but finding one in Scotland is highly unusual and this was the first of its type to be located north of the border.

Canister shotCulloden was the discovery site of a “canister shot” – a case of lead balls fired from a cannon at close range against charging cavalry
Gold coinA gold Merovingian coin dating back to the 7th Century was found at Coldstream – the tremissis was a coin introduced by the late Roman Empire
Gold ringA 16th Century gold ring was unearthed at Roslin in Midlothian

A Roman wine dipper was discovered at Hawick, while an Iron Age strap mount, which would have decorated the trappings of a horse and chariot, was found at Dunbar in East Lothian.

Other finds included a medieval silver crucifix at Loch Leven in Perth and Kinross, and a 16th Century gold finger ring decorated with white enamel which was discovered at Roslin in Midlothian.

Ms Dyer said: “The report confirms that this has been another magnificent year with some outstanding finds being reported, preserved and displayed in breathtaking museum collections around Scotland.”

Some canister shot from Culloden in the Highlands was also unearthed, as were fragments of a bronze age sword blade found at Dundrennan in Dumfries and Galloway and a Roman brooch located at Charlestown in Fife.

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The Jacobite Treasure of Loch Arkaig………


The treasure of Loch Arkaig, sometimes known as the Jacobite Gold, was a large amount of specie provided by Spain to finance the Jacobite rising in Scotland in 1745, and rumoured still to be hidden at Loch Arkaig in Lochaber.
In 1745, Prince Charles Edward Stuart (or ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’) arrived in Scotland from France and claimed the thrones of Scotland, England and Ireland, in the name of his father James Stuart (‘the Old Pretender’). Although Charles asserted that his venture was supported by Louis XV of France, and that the arrival of French forces in Scotland was imminent, in truth France had little intention to intervene on the Stuarts’ behalf. However, some limited financial support was supplied by both Spain and the Pope.

Spain pledged some 400,000 livres (or Louis d’Or) per month for the Jacobite cause. However, getting this money to the rebel army was the difficulty. The first installment (sent via Charles’ brother Henry who was resident in France) was dispatched in 1745. The French sloop Hazard (renamed the Prince Charles) successfully landed its monies on the west coast of Scotland. Unfortunately for the Jacobites, the riches were soon captured by Clan Mackay, who were loyal to King George II.

In April 1746, the ships Mars and Bellona arrived in Scotland with 1,200,000 livres (another Spanish instalment, plus a large French supplement). However, on learning of the Jacobite defeat at the Battle of Culloden on 16 April, the ships left, unloading only the Spanish money at Loch nan Uamh, Arisaig on 30 April (the same place from where the Prince had disembarked the year before, and would later embark for France). Thus, seven caskets of Spanish gold arrived in Scotland. Since the Jacobite cause was now lost, with the army scattered and the Prince and his lieutenants in hiding, the money was to be used to assist the Jacobite clansmen (then being subjected to the brutalities of the government forces of the Duke of Cumberland and to facilitate the escape of leading Jacobites to the continent.

Six caskets (one having been stolen by McDonald of Barrisdale’s men were brought to Loch Arkaig (just north of Fort William) and hidden. Their secret was entrusted to Murray of Broughton, one of the Jacobite fugitives. Murray began the distribution to clan chiefs, but when he was apprehended by the government (and later turned state’s evidence the treasure was entrusted first to Locheil, the chief of Clan Cameron, and then to Macpherson of Cluny, head of Clan Macpherson. Cluny was hiding in a cave at Ben Alder, which came to be known as ‘the cage’, and when Charles briefly joined him there, Cluny had control of the money, which was still hidden at Arkaig.

The treasure hunt

Charles finally escaped Scotland in the French frigate L’Heureux, and arrived back in France in September 1746. However, the fate of the money is not as clear. Cluny is believed to have retained control of it, and during his long years as a fugitive was at the centre of various futile plots to finance another uprising. Indeed he remained in hiding in his Highland ‘cage’ for the next eight years.Meanwhile, a cash-strapped Charles was constantly looking for his money, and at least some of it came to him later, paying for the minting of a campaign medal in the 1750s. However, it is said that all of the gold was never recovered. Charles, years later, accused Cluny of embezzlement. Whatever the case, the gold became a source of discord and grievance among the surviving Jacobites.

In 1753, Dr Archibald Cameron – Locheil’s brother, who was acting as secretary to the Old Pretender – was sent back to Scotland to locate the treasure. However, whilst staying secretly at Brenachyle by Loch Katrine, he was betrayed (apparently by the notorious ‘Pickle’, a Hanoverian spy) and arrested. He was charged under the Act of Attainder for his part in the 1745 uprising and sentenced to death, being drawn and then hanged on 7 June 1753, at Tyburn (the last Jacobite to be executed).

The trail then goes cold. However, the Stuarts’ papers (now, ironically, in the possession of Queen Elizabeth II) record a host of claims, counter-claims and accusations among the Highland Chiefs and Jacobites in exile, as to the fate of the monies. The historian Andrew Lang (who was one of the first people to research the papers since Walter Scott secured them for the Crown) recorded, in his book Pickle the Spy (1897), the sordid tale, and the involvement of both the Prince and his father in trying to locate the monies. The Stuart papers also include an account from around 1750, drawn up in Rome by Archibald Cameron, that indicates that Cluny had not or could not account for all of it.

According to Clan Cameron records, some French gold coins were found buried in nearby woods in the 1850s

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Finders Keepers? Not Always in Treasure Hunting……


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Digging into archaeology law in the U.K. and U.S.

In September 2009, David Booth, a park ranger in Stirling, Scotland, packed up his brand-new metal detector (“I practiced at home picking up nails and bits”), drove to a field, walked seven yards (six meters) from his parked car, and scored big. His first sweep with a metal detector yielded a spectacular find: four gold torques, or neck bands, from the first century B.C.—the most important hoard of Iron Age gold found in Scotland to date.

Several days later, Stuart Campbell of the National Museum of Scotland, the man in charge of “treasure trove” finds, as they are known in the United Kingdom, arrived at his Edinburgh office, opened his email to find a message with the subject “gold jewelry” and thought, “Oh, no, not another Victorian watch chain.” Then he saw the images.

Thanks to laws in England and Scotland that encourage artifact hunters to cooperate with archaeologists, Booth was paid the current market price for the cache, about $650,000, set by the queen’s and lord treasurer’s remembrancer (the British crown’s representative in Scotland). He split the sum with the landowner.

In England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, the Treasure Act of 1996 defines gold or silver finds older than 300 years as treasure and claims them for the crown. Finds must be reported within 14 days. Scotland’s laws are broader: Treasure does not have to be gold or silver and can be less than 300 years old, but in both jurisdictions, a significant find will be offered to museums to bid on.

The spectacular hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold, silver, and garnet objects discovered in 2009 by Terry Herbert, an unemployed metal-detector enthusiast, was acquired by the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, Stoke on Trent. The assessed value of $5.3 million was split between Herbert and the owner of the Staffordshire field where it was found. (In December, about 90 more pieces of gold and silver were recovered from the same area.)

Britain’s Amateur Treasure Hunters Strike Gold

Nearly 90 percent of archaeological artifacts in the U.K. are found by amateur treasure hunters with metal detectors. Michael Lewis, deputy head of portable antiquities and treasure at the British Museum in London, calls it “land fishing,” adding that the law encourages treasure hunters to adopt best practices in metal detecting, such as recording the location of finds.

A related program, the Portable Antiquities Scheme, is a voluntary project, managed by the British Museum, to record archaeological objects—not necessarily treasure—found by members of the public. So far, the British Museum has documented 800,000 finds, everything from gold and silver artifacts to bits of pottery and iron. Taken in context and seen together, they give a picture of where and how people lived in the past.

The relationship between archaeologists and metal detector hunters is, for the most part, downright amiable. Each year, the British Museum reaches out to some 177 metal-detecting clubs and judges the year’s “best” find.

U.S. Treasure Laws Lag

How do laws in the United States stack up? Fred Limp, president of the Society for American Archaeology, summed it up: “Basically, except for materials on federal land, state law applies and, with some exceptions, objects are the property of the land owner.” There is no standard rule; it varies state to state.

Federal laws are strict. “A stone tool is property of the federal government in perpetuity,” said Limp. “Its digging up is a violation of law and can be a felony.” Depending on the state, the same object found on private land may or may not have protection.

In other words, “private landowners can dig up all the sites they want and sell on eBay,” said Tom Green, director of the Arkansas Archeological Survey. A notable exception is burial sites. Nearly all states have laws forbidding the digging up of burial sites (where most of the best material is found—”like the good, fancy pots,” explained Green).

What about exporting the British scheme to the United States?

“It wouldn’t work here,” said Chris Espenshade, a consulting archaeologist for Commonwealth Cultural Resources Group in Michigan. “It’s contrary to our culture.” It’s the mindset of “It’s my property and I’ll do what I want” and an American individualism that expresses itself in “no trespassing” signs.

Furthermore, said Espenshade, “We don’t have that kind of treasure in the United States. Most of the people out metal detecting aren’t finding big money items. It’s not a Celtic gold broach. It’s a lead minie ball [an old bullet].”

Still, he admitted, the compensation afforded by the United Kingdom’s laws mitigates the idea that a finder should give away a treasure and not get anything in return.

Limitations to the U.K. Treasure Act

The U.K. laws aren’t perfect. Important finds have slipped through the cracks—notably a magnificent bronze Roman helmet found in Cumbria and auctioned off by Christie’s in 2010 for $3.6 million to a private collector. (Because it was a single object and made of bronze, it didn’t technically qualify as “treasure.”)

But the laws seem to function well enough. Said Michael Lewis of the British Museum: “The Treasure Act works well because it ensures that important finds end up in museums for all to enjoy and that finders are rewarded. They are encouraged to do the right thing.”

And Booth, the finder of the Iron Age hoard in Scotland? “It was nice to pay off the Ford Focus,” he told a local newspaper. He’s still hunting.

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‘Medieval knight’ unearthed in Edinburgh car park dig……


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The remains of a medieval knight or nobleman found underneath a car park are to be moved to make way for a university building.

The grave and evidence of a 13th Century monastery were uncovered when archaeologists were called to an Edinburgh Old Town building site.

An elaborate sandstone slab, with carvings of a Calvary Cross and ornate sword, marked the grave.

As part of low carbon measures for the University of Edinburgh scheme, work was being carried out in the former car park to create a rainwater harvesting tank for the new building.

It was already known the area had been the site of the 18th Century Old High School, the 16th Century Royal High School and the 13th Century Blackfriars Monastery.

Along with the knight or nobleman’s grave and skeleton, the excavation has revealed the exact location of the monastery, which was founded in 1230 by Alexander II (King of Scotland 1214-49) and destroyed during the Protestant Reformation in 1558.

Richard Lewis, the City of Edinburgh council culture convener, said it was hoped more would be found out about the remains, but the grave had already been dated to the 13th Century.

“This find has the potential to be one of the most significant and exciting archaeological discoveries in the city for many years, providing us with yet more clues as to what life was like in Medieval Edinburgh,” he added.

The project’s archaeological services have been provided by Edinburgh-based Headland Archaeology.

The archaeologist who found the grave, Ross Murray, had studied at the University of Edinburgh on a site only yards from where the find was made.

Mr Murray said: “We obviously knew the history of the High School Yards site while we were studying here but I never imagined I would be back here to make such an incredible discovery.”

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Scotland…Photo by Sarah McMichael….A view of Schiehallion from above Loch Rannoch


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Photography..Scotland…”Scartlett Knox and Cookie the Labradoodle.


Both are taking in the view of Loch Lomond from the Strathblane Hills.

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Chamber of secrets: Scotland……


Historic Scotland launches virtual tour of Maeshowe….
Orkney is world-famous for its spectacular Neolithic archaeology, and now visitors from all over the globe will be able to explore one of its most enigmatic monuments, after a new virtual tour of Maeshowe chambered tomb went live today (29 August).

In a video unveiled yesterday by Scotland’s Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, the structure of the 5,000 year old monument has been recreated using 3D laser-scans carried out by the Scottish Ten project – a collaboration between Historic Scotland, Glasgow School of Art and CyArk, to document Scotland’s five UNESCO World Heritage Sites and five international sites using cutting-edge digital technology. This data will be used to help research and conserve the monuments.

Maeshowe is shown at the winter solstice, when the setting sun shines directly down the monument’s entrance tunnel to illuminate its central chamber. Covering every inch of the inner rooms of the tomb, the animation also tours the outside of the mound and reveals how it was constructed in a detailed cut through.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?list=UUk5XHi7sAmgG8t3QWxSFjlA&v=5xCdP19Gej4&feature=player_detailpage

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Scottish Sailor Claims To Have Best Picture Yet Of Loch Ness Monster



Legend has it that the Loch Ness Monster was first sighted in the sixth century years ago by an Irish monk while preaching by the lake. Now, a Scottish sailor who has spent the last 26 years of his life searching for the elusive creature, says he has the best picture yet of “Nessie.”

George Edwards takes his boat, “Nessie Hunter,” out onto Loch Ness nearly every day, often with tourists who hope to see the creature for themselves. Early one morning in November of last year, Edwards was turning his ship back to shore after spending the morning searching for an old steam engine on the lake floor, when he saw something else.

“I saw something out of the corner of my eye, and immediately grabbed my camera,” Edwards told ABC News. “I happened to get a good picture of one of them.”

The typical “media Nessie,” as Edwards calls it in his thick Scottish accent, depicts the creature with three humps sticking out of the water and a long neck with a head like a horse, but Edwards says that’s probably not what Nessie looks like.

The picture Edwards took shows what he says is the back of one of the Loch Ness monsters.

“In my opinion, it probably looks kind of like a manatee, but not a mammal,” Edwards told ABC. “When people see three humps, they’re probably just seeing three separate monsters.”

While many people think of the Loch Ness monster as a single creature, Edwards maintains that can’t be true.

“It was first seen in 565 AD,” Edwards said. “Nothing can live that long. It’s more likely that there are a number of monsters, offspring of the original.”

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Possible da Vinci painting found in Scottish farmhouse; could be worth $150 million


Experts say the six highlighted points indicate this may be a daVinci original (Daily Mail)
Fiona McLaren, 59, had kept an old painting in her Scottish farmhouse for decades. She reportedly didn’t think much of the painting, which had been given to her as a gift by her father. But after she finally decided to have the painting appraised, some experts are speculating that it may in fact be a 500-year-old painting by Leonardo da Vinci and potentially worth more than $150 million.

“I showed it to him [auctioneer Harry Robertson] and he was staggered, speechless save for a sigh of exclamation,” said Ms. McLaren, according to The People.

The Daily Mail says the painting may be of Mary Magdalene holding a young child. The painting is now undergoing further analysis by experts at the Cambridge University and the Hamilton Kerr Institute, who will attempt to uncover its exact age and origins.

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