Traprain Law: A Late Antique Silver Treasure from Scotland


In 1919 in Traprain Law (Scotland), north of the borders of the Imperium Romanum, was discovered a hoard of about 25 kg of so-called hacked silver from mainly late Roman silver vessels. In research, hacked silver is the term used to describe vessels and objects that have been deliberately cut up to extract precious metals. The Traprain Law hoard represents by far the largest and heaviest find in this particular category of treasure finds. Most hoards of hacked silver have come to light outside the Roman Empire: in Scotland, Ireland, northern Germany, and Scandinavia. The Traprain Law silver hoard, consisting of several hundred pieces, was discovered as early as 1923 by A. O. Curle published exemplary for the time. Today the find is integrally preserved in the National Museums Scotland in Edinburgh and exhibited in large parts. Within the framework of an international project initiated by the National Museums Scotland under the direction of Dr. Fraser Hunter and Dr. Kenneth Painter, a new publication of the spectacular silver find is currently being prepared, in which a team of researchers from the University of Basel (M. Guggisberg, A. Kaufmann-Heinimann, M. Martin, S. Martin-Kilcher) is also involved. In addition to the documentation of the silver objects, the focus of the new edition is on the question of the cultural-historical location of the extraordinary find: how and from where did the Roman silverware reach Traprain Law across the border of the Imperium Romanum, when and under what circumstances did it fall into the ground, what was the purpose of the smashed silverware in Barbaricum?


Project Management:

Dr. Fraser Hunter, National Museums Edinburgh; Dr. A. Kaufmann-Heinimann, University of Basel.