Elgin Museum has an extensive collection of local archaeology, telling Moray’s story from the arrival of people in the area during Mesolithic period (around 8000 BC) to the Picts (3rd – 9th Centuries AD). More recent acquisitions are the consequence of research excavations, for example at Birnie, through Treasure Trove allocations of objects found by chance discovery, such as metal detecting finds and the Dandaleith Stone, and from archaeology discovered through development & infrastructure works.
What will we see on display?
In the Rear Gallery, you will find themed displays of archaeological artefacts arranged chronologically accompanied by a timeline to help understand the sequence. There are also archaeological artefacts on display in the main gallery and upstairs.
The Birnie Hoard
A changing display of objects on loan from National Museums Scotland from Dr Fraser Hunter’s excavations at nearby Birnie, including two Roman silver coin hoards. In 2016, the objects returned to Edinburgh to undergo further research but items will be re-displayed in Elgin Museum in 2017.
Pictish and Early Medieval carved stones
The museum is home to a significant collection of carved stones from Kinneddar / Drainie (near Lossiemouth), the famous Burghead Bulls, and the Dandaleith Stone, a Class I Pictish Stone found in 2013 on farmland at near Craigellachie. The collection was conserved, and a new exhibition created, in 2015 thanks to a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Neolithic stone balls
These enigmatic objects are virtually unique to the North East of Scotland – intricately carved and decorated, their exact purpose remains a mystery.
Early Bronze Age cist
Found near Roseisle, the cist contains the skeleton of the tallest known man from this period in Scotland.
Sculptor’s Cave, Covesea
Items from Sculptor’s Cave are on display in the alcove “Where are the Women of History?” They were found during the 1928-1930 excavations carried out by local classical archaeologist Miss Sylvia Benton.
On display are three cervical (neck) vertebrae, which illustrate the practice of beheadings in the Iron Age (around 240 AD).
Some of our more recent items on display have been found by local metal detectorists, and allocated by the Treasure Trove panel. These include objects from Clarkly Hill, near Burghead, a site which was excavated by Dr Fraser Hunter.
What about new finds?
Our acquisition policy for archaeology restricts us largely to acquiring objects with a specific link with Moray. Since we are an Accredited museum, we are able to bid for and be allocated objects through the Treasure Trove process. We have a limited budget for this through the generosity of donors to our Acquisition and Conservation Fund and contributions from the National Fund for Acquisitions. We are indebted to local metal detectorists for their reporting and donation of finds from Moray. This helps greatly in the increasing our knowledge of Moray’s story.
Research and the Archaeology collection
We welcome visits and enquiries from researchers, students or anyone with a special interest. Objects, those on display and in the stores, can be viewed in detail by appointment – please contact us by email for more information. More information on research undertaken on objects in the Museum’s collection can be found on our Research page.
Reporting your finds
If you have, or have found, an object of possible archaeological interest, please contact us by email or visit us at the Museum where we will try to help. Any finds should also be reported to the Treasure Trove unit, a process which Museum staff can assist with.
We welcome enquiries about archaeology. The staff and volunteers at Elgin Museum will try to answer your questions, if necessary referring to the various specialists who have research links with the Museum. Email or ask to speak with the volunteer Archaeology Representative, who is also our contact with Moray Council’s delegated Archaeology Service at Aberdeenshire Council, and is the first point of contact in the Museum for any academic or commercial archaeologists active in Moray and the person to ask if you are interested in getting involved in archaeology. Keep up to date with archaeology opportunities in Moray on the Moray Archaeology For All Facebook page.