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Unst, Shetland

Postcard of Box.
© National Museums Scotland


This small bronze box, probably used to hold a set of weights, was found with a brass oval brooch on Unst in Shetland. They are probably from a Norse woman's grave, dating from between 850 and 900.

This picture shows the circular box pictured from above, with its 19th century museum labels still attached. The lid of the box is missing, and the bottom is damaged around the edges. Similar boxes are known from Scandinavia.

Anyone involved in trading and selling in the Norse areas of Scotland would have needed a portable balance and a set of weights. Precious metal would have been placed in one pan, and various combinations of weights in the other.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-000-099-758-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 314
Date: Between 850 and 900
Material: Bronze; hemispherical
What: Box, weight
Where: Scotland, Shetland, Unst
Description: Small hemispherical bronze box, probably for containing weights, from a grave on Unst, Shetland
  • Graham-Campbell, James and Batey, Colleen E. Vikings in Scotland. An Archaeological Survey. Edinburgh: University Press, 1998, p 64. 
  • Grieg, Sigurd. Viking Antiquities in Scotland (=Viking Antiquities in Great Britain and Ireland, Part II, ed. by Haakon Shetelig). Oslo: H. Aschehoug & Co., 1940, p 103. 
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