Diagnostically Norse Artefacts

A small copper alloy mount decorated in a Scandinavian art style (Urnes style) was found near Ardersier by a metal detector (MHG56877). Brooches and mounts in this style were mass produced in Scandinavia between AD 1050 and 1150, with moulds known from the first half of the 12th century from Lund in Sweden. The context for this find is intriguing, as it dates to the period of political control by the rulers of Moray and the increasing influence from the Scottish kings. Ardersier was the site of an important ferry, so it might simply be a chance loss (Kruse 2013a). Another mount found during excavations of Building VI at Freswick, Caithness also shows Urnes style, but perhaps from an English variant (Batey 1987,137 Case Study Freswick Links).

Other Norse objects have been found in scattered contexts throughout the Highlands. From Freswick there is a bone counter that is very similar to Scandinavian examples (Batey 1987, 18.13.2, 215). The Iron Age broch at Dun Beag on Skye (MHG5018; Graham-Campbell and Batey 1998, 78) was re-used in the Norse period, and finds from this period include a gold finger ring, an ornamented belt buckle and a coin of Henry II dating from 1154 to 89 (Graham-Campbell and Batey 1998, 78). Stones with runic inscriptions, such as the grave marker from Thurso (MHG13624), probably also date to this period.

Rune-inscribed stone incorporated in masonry at St Peter’s Church, Thurso (present location, Caithness Horizons Thurso). ©The Highland Council


Case Study: Freswick Links

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