Grave goods

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from Reay, Caithness

Postcard of Grave goods.
© National Museums Scotland

Grave goods

These grave goods were found along with some human bones eroding from the sand dunes at Reay in Caithness in 1912. They are characteristic Scandinavian grave goods, indicating a woman's burial dating to around 900 to 1000. Other Viking graves were found nearby.

The grave goods comprise brass oval brooches, a bronze ring-headed pin, a steatite spindle whorl, a tinned bronze buckle, an iron horse bit and a small pair of corroded iron tweezers.

The find reports are not as detailed as would be liked, and it is uncertain that all objects, especially the tweezers, belong to one grave. It is unusual to find horse equipment buried in a woman's grave.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-000-099-670-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0036: Kiloran Bay Viking Burial (multimedia essay)
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  X.IL 340
Date: Between 900 and 1000
Material: Bronze; moveable annular head; slightly imperfect
Bronze; oval; bowl-shaped; formed of two convex plates; ornamented with interlaced zoomorphic design; traces of gilding still remaining; pin missing
Bronze; oval; bowl-shaped; formed of two convex plates; similar to X.IL 334 but slightly different ornamentation
Bronze; rectangular; bent metal plate attached; showing remains of tinning on one face
Double edged; trilobed pommel; recurved guards; imperfect at point
Iron; much corroded; in three portions
Steatite; plano-convex in section
Dimensions: 1.00" D
1.13" x 0.88"
24.50" L
4.31" L x 2.88" W
4.38" L x 2.63" W
4.50" L
What: Bit, bridle
Where: Scotland, Caithness, Reay
Scotland, Caithness, Reay
Scotland, Caithness, Reay
Scotland, Caithness, Reay
Scotland, Caithness, Reay
Scotland, Caithness, Reay
Scotland, Dumfriesshire, Annan District Waterworks, Mein River
Description: Oval bronze brooch formed of two convex plates ornamented with interlaced zoomorphic design, traces of gilding remaining, with faint textile remains around pin fastener, from Reay, Caithness
Oval bowl-shaped bronze brooch formed of two convex plates with ornamentation slightly different to X.IL 334, from Reay, Caithness
Bronze pin, slightly imperfect at point, with moveable annular head, from Reay, Caithness
Rectangular bronze buckle with bent metal plate attached, showing remains of tinning on one face, from Reay, Caithness
Steatite whorl from Reay, Caithness
Iron bridle bit from Reay, Caithness
Double-edged Viking sword with trilobed pommel and recurved guards, found on the left bank of the Mein River, Dumfriesshire
  • Graham-Campbell, James and Batey, Colleen E. Vikings in Scotland. An Archaeological Survey. Edinburgh: University Press, 1998, pp 125-6. 
  • Grieg, Sigurd. Viking Antiquities in Scotland (=Viking Antiquities in Great Britain and Ireland, Part II, ed. by Haakon Shetelig). Oslo: H. Aschehoug & Co., 1940, pp 20-2. 
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