Comhairle nan Eilean Siar Logo (with tagline Ag Obair Còmhla Airson nan Eilean)
Lews Castle

New exhibition of recently discovered archaeology opens in Benbecula

‘Hebridean Life & Archaeology’ is the new exhibition at Museum nan Eilean, Lionacleit, Benbecula. The exhibition features archaeology alongside archival photos by acclaimed photographer Gus Wylie.  The photographs on display capture scenes of Hebridean life from a particular time and place.

The exhibited archaeological artefacts are chance finds that were found locally by members of the public or were part of formal university led archaeological excavations.  These significant finds were recently allocated to Museum nan Eilean through the Treasure Trove Scotland process.  

Highlights include a stick pin found in Rosinish, Benbecula, Frustum-headed pins found in Vallay, North Uist and a number of finds from Ardivachar in South Uist including a rare 8-9th century hinged pin style brooch-pin and a cut quarter silver denier which originated in Normandy.

Museum nan Eilean has recently taken ownership of the Bornish assemblage, from the important Norse settlement which was excavated by Cardiff University between 1994 and 2004.

Kevin Murphy, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar Archaeologist, said:

“This archaeological excavation has given us an opportunity for greater understanding of life in the Outer Hebrides between the 5th and 15th century, reflecting not only agricultural and artisan activities but also the links with the greater Viking world”

The assemblage is extensive and only a small selection is currently on display to give a taste of what was excavated. Museum Service staff will be busy assessing and cataloguing the large assemblage over the coming year. Under Scottish law, all finds must be reported to Treasure Trove, and permission must be obtained before metal detecting. If the Crown claims the artefact, then the finder will be awarded an ex-gratia ‘goodwill’ payment, which is normally set at the market value, and is paid by the receiving museum.

Hebridean Life & Archaeology

Treasure Trove Scotland

Bornish Assemblage

  • Niall Sharples (Lead Archaeologist)
  • Cardiff University

Photos:  All copyright of CnES Heritage Service.  Only for use with this article