Base for mounts

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From St Ninian's Isle, Dunrossness, Shetland

Postcard of Base for mounts.
© National Museums Scotland

Base for mounts

These two silver bases for mounts of unknown purpose were found in a hoard containing 28 silver items and part of a porpoise's jaw, buried on St Ninian's Isle, at Dunrossness, on Shetland. The objects probably belonged to a Pictish chief.

Although only one base retains the beaded edge, used to hide the soldering where the base attached to the conical mount, both originally had this feature. Both bases are pierced, perhaps to allow the mounts to slot onto a flexible strap.

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: 000-100-036-429-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 281
Date: 8th century
8th century
Between 750 and 825
Material: Silver gilt; conical; perforated above base; covered with fine decoration of engraved spirals and coils; disc detached from base
Silver gilt; conical; perforated just above base; four chip carved panels within arched frames; disc with a pair of semicircular slots detached from base
Dimensions: 1.50" H; perforated 0.45" above base
1.60" H
What: Mount
Where: Scotland, Shetland, St Ninian's Isle
Scotland, Shetland, St Ninian's Isle
Description: Conical mount of silver-gilt with four panels of interlace and animal decoration, from St Ninian's Isle, Pictish, 8th century
Conical mount of silver-gilt with fine all-over decoration of engraved spirals and coils, 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 61-4 . 
  • 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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