Gold sword decoration found by metal detector in Stirlingshire acquired by National Museum’s Scotland

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A 1,300-year-old gold sword fitting discovered by a metal detector has been acquired by the National Museum of Scotland.

The ornate pommel, believed to date from around AD 700, was found near Blair Drummond in Stirlingshire and features a bird of prey motif.

Experts believe the ‘exceptionally rare’ object is ‘like nothing else found in the UK before’, but its origins remain shrouded in mystery.

The 5.5cm wide gold button is valued at £30,000.

Dr Alice Blackwell, senior curator of medieval archeology and history at the National Museums Scotland (NMS), described the find as “significant on a UK level”.

The decorative pommel is valued at around £30,000.  (Image: National Museums of Scotland)

She adds: “The decoration is quite clearly Christian, mixing old-fashioned animal and protective motifs that you see in Anglo-Saxon art with very clear Christian iconography.

“There are two panels, one on each side, and one has a symbolic cross made out of geometric shapes, and the other looks like a potted plant.

“And those twin motifs are the cross, as in the crucifixion, and the tree of life, which is about resurrection, so it’s about death and rebirth.

“But you also have mythical beasts crawling around the sides, so there are all sorts of things going on.

“It’s so visually rich, and that’s what sets it apart from anything that’s been found in the UK.”

Dr Blackwood said there was no evidence yet to suggest there was a battle on the ground in which the pommel, believed to have been attached to a steel sword, was found.

John Logue, King’s and Lord Treasurer’s Remembrancer, said: “This discovery highlights the positive work done by the Treasure Trove unit in deciding the preservation of rare items for the nation.”

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