Treasures from the Hoard

Treasures from the Hoard will feature many of the iconic pieces from the spectacular Traprain Treasure, found on Traprain Law 100 years ago. This is the first time this internationally significant Roman silver can be seen in East Lothian since its discovery in 1919. The exhibition was curated by Dr Claire Pannell of East Lothian Council Museums Service, with assistance from Dr Fraser Hunter of National Museums Scotland.

Traprain treasure
Traprain Treasure, courtesy of the Trustees of National Museums Scotland

The Traprain Treasure is the largest hoard of late Roman ‘hacksilver’ found anywhere in Europe. It consists of fragments from over 250 silver objects, that were found buried in a pit within a hill fort during an archaeological excavation. The hoard was buried more than 1,500 years ago, around AD 450. When first found, it was thought that barbarians had stolen the ‘loot’ from retreating Romans. However, following extensive research by Dr Hunter into other hacksilver hoards across Europe, it was more likely cut up within the Roman world at times of economic crisis, when precious metal was valued as bullion rather than as fancy vessels. It was then sent north as diplomatic gifts (or payment for military assistance) to the powerful leaders on Traprain Law, as a way of buying their support and keeping the Roman frontier secure. This silver was intended for the melting pot – Roman silver bullion was melted down and made into the first ever items of Scottish silver jewellery, with examples of this from the Traprain Law settlement itself.

The Treasures from the Hoard exhibition takes over the first gallery of the museum, involving a total revamp of the gallery and features real and replica objects. A programme of talks and events will take place to mark the centenary, both in East Lothian and at the National Museum of Scotland. The exhibition is supported by loans from National Museums Scotland and private lenders, with financial support from Museums Galleries Scotland.

The exhibition will be on display from 11th May 2019 to 27th October 2019.