Investigating the Traprain Law Roman treasure - NMS Research Repository
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Investigating the Traprain Law Roman treasure

26 May 2009


National Museums Scotland has one of the most important late Roman treasures in Europe, the Traprain Treasure, found in 1919 on Traprain Law, East Lothian, a hill top some 20 miles east of Edinburgh. The treasure is the largest and most important hoard of late Roman silver from beyond the edge of the Roman empire and was reported intensively by the excavator, Alexander Curle in “The Treasure of Traprain” in 1923 and in the archaeological literature. It was quickly put on display in the museum in Edinburgh following a year of intensive restoration by a firm of Edinburgh silversmiths. The treasure consists of over 160 pieces of silver and silver gilt, remarkable in that while most of the pieces are items of silver that have been cut up and flattened and can be described as hacksilber some of the pieces remained much more complete, one bowl remaining untouched. The reason for the treasure being hoarded has be the subject of much speculation over the years. Why did such a collection of precious objects get destroyed and eventually end up in a pit within a small settlement? Was it the wealth won from the Romans by a Barbarian pirate? Or was it bullion from some diplomatic negotiations between the Romans and the native population? Or perhaps part of the stock of a trader or local craftsman? The status of the Traprain Treasure is currently the subject of a international archaeological study. To shed some light on the silver itself we have engaged on a technological study of the pieces. This summary report on analytical work undertaken using the micro-PIXE facility at the C2RMF thanks to funding for 3 days of beam time through Eu-ARTECH …


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