(c) National Museums Scotland

National Museums Scotland wins right to acquire Galloway Hoard

Patrick Steel, 17.05.2017
Dumfries and Galloway Council loses appeal over £1.98m Viking hoard
Dumfries and Galloway Council has lost its bid to house the £1.98m Galloway Hoard following a decision by the Queen’s and Lord Treasurer’s Remembrancer (QLTR) to award the Viking treasure to National Museums Scotland (NMS).

The council had unsuccessfully appealed against the QLTR's decision, meaning NMS now has six months to raise the funds to acquire the hoard.

The hoard, which was discovered in Dumfries and Galloway in 2014 by a metal detectorist, is thought to be a collection of rare and unique Viking-age objects of international significance.

Gordon Rintoul, NMS’s director, said: “It is the richest collection of Viking-age objects ever found in Scotland, England and Ireland. There is a range of material from far corners of Europe and beyond.

“The importance and significance of the hoard is greater than previously understood, and that is reflected in the value, which underlines the significance of it.”

Campaigners to keep the hoard in Dumfries and Galloway said they were disappointed by the decision. Dumfries and Galloway Council was last year awarded £1.2m from the Heritage Lottery Fund to redevelop Kirkcudbright Art Gallery and create a temporary exhibition space, which it hoped would allow it to house the Galloway Hoard.

Cathy Agnew, the chair of the Galloway Viking Hoard Campaign, said: “NMS is the national museum, it has the resources to conserve and research the hoard, but the worry is that at NMS it will be lost among the other treasures.

“Kirkcudbright Art Gallery would have been the perfect place to display the hoard. The hoard would have been cherished and would have made a big difference to cultural tourism in the region. It was buried here and found here, so it should stay here.”

A Dumfries and Galloway Council spokesman said: “Our council is clearly disappointed with the decision. This does not mean our enthusiasm to bring the Viking hoard home has been dampened though. We remain open to working with NMS to secure elements of the Galloway Viking Hoard in the Kirkcudbright Art Gallery, on both long and short-term loan.”

Rintoul has indicated that NMS is open to this: “It’s fair to say that we have got a common aim in that we believe some of the hoard should be on display in Dumfries and Galloway. We were upfront from the beginning about acquiring it and allowing Dumfries and Galloway to display part of it. We are in dialogue [with the council] about that.”

Should NMS fail to raise the money, which would be awarded to the metal detectorist who found the hoard, it would go back to the QLTR for revaluation. But if funds to purchase the hoard for the nation could not be found ownership would transfer to the finder. A spokeswoman for Scotland’s Treasure Trove Unit told Museums Journal that the unit was working to avoid this happening.

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