On Thursday, April 21st, 2016, Glasgow Archaeological Society will be hosting a lecture from Alice Blackwell on Scotland’s earliest silver: phase three of the Glenmorangie Research Project 2015–2017.

The lecture will begin at the slightly earlier-than-usual time of 7.15pm in Lecture Theatre 2 of the Boyd Orr Building, University Avenue, University of Glasgow.

The surviving material from the hoard of silver found in 19th century at Norrie’s Law in Fife © Copyright of the Trustees of National Museums Scotland

This paper will present early findings of a major three-year programme of research and scientific analysis into Scotland’s earliest silver, arguably the material that more than any other underpinned the formation of the early medieval kingdoms of Scotland. Building on six years of research into the archaeology of early medieval Scotland, Phase three of the Glenmorangie Research Project is narrowing its focus to examine Scotland’s earliest silver.

Silver arrived in Scotland with the Romans but that supply stopped in the fifth century and new sources were not available until the Viking Age. During the intervening centuries silver rapidly became a key material for establishing and communicating power and prestige in the first millennia AD. The lack of new supplies of the raw material meant successions of objects were recycled and the same silver used again and again.

This paper will report on the three-year programme of research and scientific analysis tracking the changing composition of silver over the first millennia AD, and examining the role it played in the emergence of the new power structures of early medieval Scotland. Early findings relating to the significant hoard from Norrie’s Law and the new discovery of over one hundred pieces of Roman and early medieval silver from Aberdeenshire will be reported. These rare survivals, the only early medieval Scottish hacksilver hoards to survive, put Scotland on an international stage, with links to what was happening both inside and out of the crumbling Roman Empire. They provide an unrivalled opportunity to understand the murky transition from the Late Roman to Early Medieval period in Scotland.


About Alice Blackwell, FSA Scot

Alice studied at the University of Leeds and then the University of Glasgow, and joined National Museums Scotland in 2008 as Glenmorangie Research Officer. Now Glenmorangie Research Fellow, she works on all kinds of early medieval artefacts and sculpture, but is currently engaged in a three-year programme of work on early medieval silver – and this will be the subject of her talk today.