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found on St Ninian's Isle, Dunrossness, Shetland

Postcard of Mounts.
© National Museums Scotland


These mounts, one of silver and two of gilt silver were found in a hoard of Pictish metalwork buried on St Ninian's Isle at Dunrossness in Shetland between 750 and 825. They probably belonged to a Pictish chief.

The mounts are completely ornamented in spirals and interlaced animals. All had detachable perforated base plates. They appear designed to slot onto a flexible strap threaded through the base. However, their function remains unclear.

The metalwork found in the St Ninian's Isle treasure shows the skill and accomplishment of Pictish craftsmen. Some of the decorative motifs, such as those on the mounts, can be paralleled on contemporary Pictish stones.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-190-001-162-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0098: National Museums Scotland
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  X.FC 279
Date: 8th century
Buried between 750 and 825
Material: Silver gilt; conical; with a small tube above the base; covered all over with symmetrically arranged animal interlace in chip carving; base filled with a thin damaged disc with two small parallel rectangular slots
Dimensions: 1.75" H x 1.45" D; tube 0.40" above base
What: Mount
Where: Scotland, Shetland, St Ninian's Isle
Description: Conical silver-gilt mount decorated with symmetrically arranged animal interlace, from St Ninian's Isle, Pictish, 8th century
  • Small, A., Thomas, C., and Wilson, D.M. St. Ninian's Isle and its treasure. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1973, vol. 1, pp 60-4 . 
  • Youngs, Susan (ed). 'The Work of Angels'. Masterpieces of Celtic metalwork, 6th-9th centuries AD. London: British Museums Publications Ltd, 1989, pp. 109-10. 
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