Treasure trove’ of Viking Age artefacts discovered on Isle of Man by amateur metal detectorist


A collection of rare Viking age artefacts discovered on the Isle of Man by an amateur detectorist has been declared treasure by a coroner.

The “internationally significant” findings include a gold arm-ring and a massive silver brooch more than 1000 years old, which were believed to buried around AD 950.

Detectorist Kath Giles reported the find at the end of 2020 while detecting on private land, and reported the findings to Manx National Heritage for excavation.

Gold arm-ring

According to the Irish annals, the Vikings first set foot on the Isle of Man in the year 798. By 820 they had conquered and settled in the Isle of Man, using the island as a trading point between Scotland and Ireland.

Earlier discoveries of Viking Age gold arm-rings from the Island during the 1890s suggest that there may have been some gold-working on the Island during the Viking Age, and that the Island was home to some particularly wealthy people back then. 

The gold arm ring is rare and indicates wealthy settlers lived on the island (Photo: Manx National Heritage)

“I knew I had found something very special when I moved the soil away from one of the terminals of the brooch, but then I found parts of the pin, the hoop and underneath, the gorgeous gold arm-ring,” Ms Giles said. “I knew straight away that it was a significant and exciting find. I’m so thrilled to have found artefacts that are not only so important, but so beautiful.”

The silver brooch would have been worn at the shoulder to hold heavy clothing such as a cloak in place, with the point of the pin upwards. The brooch is one of the largest examples of its type ever discovered, and it features an intricate designs on the pin and terminal, experts at the Manx National Heritage caring for the hoard on behalf of the Isle of Man Government said.

Finder Kath Giles pictured with Allison Fox, MNH Curator for Archaeology holding the newly discovered silver “thistle brooch” (Photo: Manx National Heritage)

“We received a telephone call from Kath late last year, and with Kath’s help, we were able to document the site and ensure there were no further objects remaining in the ground,” Allison Fox, Curator for Archaeology for Manx National Heritage said.

Ms Fox said the arm-ring “is a rare find.”

“Gold items were not very common during the Viking Age,” she said. “Silver was by far the more common metal for trading and displaying wealth.  It has been estimated that gold was worth 10 times the value of silver and that this arm-ring could have been the equivalent of 900 silver coins”.

According to a Manx law that came into effect in 2017, Ms Giles will receive a reward for her findings once an independent expert assesses the hoard’s market value.

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