A hoard of Viking Age jewellery including a rare gold arm-ring has come to light on the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea. The discovery was made by metal-detectorist Kath Giles on the island last December, but was recently announced when a coroner’s inquest declared the find as Treasure.
Dated to c.AD 950 on stylistic grounds, the hoard contains three significant pieces of jewellery deposited in a single event, possibly by a wealthy individual. At this time, the Isle of Man was part of an important area for trade, Allison Fox, curator of archaeology for Manx National Heritage, said. ‘But elsewhere to the east and west, Viking rule was coming to an end and perhaps this encouraged further Viking settlement on the Island. The Viking and Norse influence remained strong on the Island for a further 300 years, long after much of the rest of the British Isles.’
The intricately decorated silver brooch in the hoard is particularly large, consisting of a c.20cm-diameter hoop and a c.50cm-long pin, and would have been worn on the shoulder to fasten heavy garments. It is the first time a brooch of this type (known as a ‘thistle brooch of ball type’) has been discovered on the Isle of Man, and it may have been made on the Island. More silver was found in the hoard in the form of at least one armband that had been cut up before being deposited.
An arm-ring made from three twisting strands of gold that join in a flat band decorated with triangles of dots was also discovered, adding weight to the theory – based on earlier gold finds – that there was some gold-working on the Island in the Viking Age. Fox said, ‘The arm-ring is a rare find. Gold items were not very common during the Viking Age. Silver was by far the more common metal for trading and displaying wealth. It has been estimated that gold was worth ten times the value of silver, and that this arm-ring could have been the equivalent of 900 silver coins.’