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Treasure Trove Comes to Shetland

Published: 29 August 2023

Members of the public are invited to come along with their ‘treasures’ and meet experts from Scotland’s Treasure Trove Unit (TTU) at two drop-in events over the weekend of 9 & 10 September.

Jenny Murray with a carved Iron Age rotary quern - found by a local man on the shore before his house.


Chance discoveries of artefacts by members of the public have the potential to make a significant contribution to our understanding of Scotland’s past. The role of Treasure Trove is to ensure that finds of cultural significance are protected for the benefit of the nation and preserved in museums across the country.

Shetland Museum and Archives will host the Saturday session from 11.00am – 3.00pm and the Old Haa in Yell on Sunday from 2.30 – 4.30pm. Three members of the TTU team will be on hand to assess any finds that the community may have found and advise people on what they need to do.

Jenny Murray curator responsible for archaeology at Shetland Museum explained: “Treasure is anything of cultural or historical value to Scotland – to help tell the national and community story. This includes anything that is archaeological, medieval finds, and coins that are pre-1800.  Archaeological items include pottery sherds, beads (stone, bone and glass), stone tools, worked bone, stone fishing weights, stone loom weights and much more. Really -  anything from 4000BC to AD 1800!”

Much of what goes through the Treasure Trove process are chance finds where someone digging their garden or ploughing a field may uncover archaeological or other important material. People cutting peat in the moorlands also find things, especially stone and wooden tools, but also ancient textiles – prehistoric Shetlander’s have ‘offered’ things to the moorland as votive offerings. Metal detectorists often uncover important finds including coins. 

There have been many significant finds by members of the public in recent years – some of which will be on display in a new Treasure Trove focus case at the Shetland Museum, which is being curated by Jenny Murray.

Jenny gives an example of one such ‘treasure’: “A local man, who often walked the shore below his house, came across a beautiful carved Iron Age rotary quern. Once he recognised its significance he went back to the beach after each storm that washed in, and he found another section of the quern. Both will form part of the display – and hopefully he will complete the quern jigsaw as new storms hit our shores.”

To book a 20-minute slot at the Shetland Museum with a Treasure Trove expert visit the Treasure Trove website or just drop in.

No booking required at the Old Haa Museum, Yell.