Grave goods

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from Pierowall, Westray, Orkney

Postcard of Grave goods.
© National Museums Scotland

Grave goods

A Viking Age cemetery at Pierowall on Westray in Orkney has been eroding from the sands over the years, revealing a number of objects from Scandinavian graves. In the 19th century various poorly recorded excavations also took place.

This picture shows some of the finer objects from the more than 15 graves excavated. They include a brass oval brooch from a woman's grave, a tinned bronze drinking terminal mount, and a refashioned gilt bronze Irish/Pictish brooch with glass settings.

A number of weapons were also found, including the two spears, a sword (here pictured in two parts), a shield boss, and a very unusual axe hammer. The burials date from between 850 and 950.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-000-099-712-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 201
Date: 9th century
Between 850 and 950
Material: Bronze, gilt; curiously ornamented
Bronze; flattened ends; ornamented interlaced panels
Iron; imperfect
Oval; bowl-shaped
Dimensions: 8" L
What: Axe
Brooch, penannular
Drinking horn terminal
Shield boss
Where: Scotland, Orkney, Westray, Links of Pierowall
Scotland, Orkney, Westray, Pierowall
Scotland, Orkney, Westray, Pierowall
Scotland, Orkney, Westray, Pierowall
Scotland, Orkney, Westray, Pierowall
Scotland, Orkney, Westray, Pierowall
Scotland, Orkney, Westray, Pierowall
Description: Drinking horn terminal of gilt bronze, from Pierowall, Westray
Iron spearhead from Pierowall, Westray
Oval tortoise brooch with textile imprints on the reverse, from Pierowall, Westray, 9th century
Penannular bronze brooch with flattened ends and ornamented interlaced panels, from Pierowall, Westray
Shield boss
  • Graham-Campbell, James and Batey, Colleen E. Vikings in Scotland. An Archaeological Survey. Edinburgh: University Press, 1998, pp 132-134. 
  • Thorsteinsson, A. The Viking burial place at Pierowall, Westray, Orkney. In: Niclasen, B. (ed.) The Fifth Viking Congress: Tórshavn, July 1965. Tórshavn, 1968, pp 150-173. 
  • Youngs, Susan (ed). 'The Work of Angels'. Masterpieces of Celtic metalwork, 6th-9th centuries AD. London: British Museums Publications Ltd, 1989, p 220. 
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