Finder Kath Giles pictured with Allison Fox, MNH Curator for Archaeology holding the newly discovered silver “thistle brooch”Finder Kath Giles pictured with Allison Fox, MNH Curator for Archaeology holding the newly discovered silver “thistle brooch”

Finder Kath Giles pictured with Allison Fox, MNH Curator for Archaeology holding the newly discovered silver “thistle brooch”

A stunning collection of Viking Age artefacts discovered on the Isle of Man has been declared Treasure by Coroner of Inquests Jayne Hughes.

The internationally significant find consists of a gold arm-ring, a massive silver brooch, at least one silver armband and other associated finds, buried around AD 950.  It was discovered in late 2020 by metal detectorist Kath Giles whilst metal detecting on private land.

Finder, Kath Giles said: ‘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.  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 gold arm-ring is made from three plaited rods of gold, both ends merging into a flat lozenge-shaped band that has been decorated all over with a stamped design of groups of three dots.

The silver brooch is a type known as a “thistle brooch of ball type”.  It is large – the hoop is c20cm diameter and the pin is c50cm long.  Although bent and broken and with just some small pieces missing, the brooch is complete.  It 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.  It has intricate designs on the pin and terminals and as with the arm-ring, the brooch would have been an immediate visual indicator of the wealth of the owner.  It may not have been for everyday use.  The type is thought to have originated in the Irish Sea area – it is possible that the brooch was made on the Isle of Man.

Allison Fox, Curator for Archaeology for Manx National Heritage added: ‘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 10 times the value of silver and that this arm-ring could have been the equivalent of 900 silver coins.’

The “Kath Giles” hoard will go on display in the Viking and Medieval Gallery at the Manx Museum on Thursday 18 February prior to valuation and further conservation work. The location of the find and details of the landowner will remain confidential to protect the integrity of the find site.