The Museum opened for the 2016 season on Saturday 7th May with a new exhibition featuring the two Pictish stones which had been lying on the Museum floor since 2000. They are now mounted upright on plinths, with LED lights directed onto the stones in order to enhance their markings. To accompany the stones we have a new display board providing information about the Picts, focussing on Abernethy and our own Pictish stones, of which there are nine in total. There are also some new Pictish-themed activities for children.
On sale in the Museum, alongside the bags, mugs, t-shirts, and leaflets, we now have postcards and notelets featuring photos by Timon Rose. One of these is of the Round Tower and the other is a panorama of Abernethy taken from Castlelaw.
Over the weekend of 4/5 June The Tay Landscape Partnership (TayLP) organised a second “Wee Big Dig” in collaboration with the Museum. The weekend proved very successful, with approximately 200 people attending various activities over the two days. There were community digs near the Williamson Hall, off Deads Lane at the back of the churchyard, and in Janet Paton’s garden. In addition some homeowners were able to undertake mini-digs in their own gardens, where they benefitted from the expertise of AOC archaeologists. As with last year’s digs most of the finds were from the 19th or 20th centuries, and the oldest find was some medieval “white gritty ware” at the Williamson Hall site, dating possibly from as early as the 12th century.
A very popular activity on the Saturday in the Museum courtyard was Susheila Jamieson’s stone carving workshop. After a short tutorial from Susheila participants were able to carve Pictish symbols onto soft blocks using chisels and mallets. This really was a family affair with parents and children working together to achieve fantastic results! Also on Saturday the Museum’s Social Committee organised a coffee morning in the Williamson Hall, and we had two resident Pictish re-enactors who talked to visitors about their clothing and weapons. Guided tours of the Round Tower with Adrian Cox from Historic Environment Scotland were a popular activity on Sunday afternoon.
During 2017 we will have the last of our activities supported by the Tay Landscape Partnership. We plan to use the final budget to improve the Museum’s outdoor display panels, create additional children’s activities including our own dig box, and we are also investigating the provision of audio guides for visitors. The TayLP is also planning two interpretation panels for the village, along with accompanying leaflets indicating walks, special features etc., for visitors. The third “Wee Big Dig” will take place towards the end of June and will be followed by a week-long dig on Castlelaw – volunteers will be very welcome!
We have had a few enquiries about what happens to finds, and whether they will be returned to Abernethy in due course. This is where “Treasure Trove” comes into play as, by law, all significant finds, even on private property, have to be notified to the government’s Treasure Trove unit. The following excerpt from their website explains the system:
Objects are claimed for their archaeological or historical importance rather than financial value. Treasure Trove is not restricted to objects of precious metal and many important finds of bronze or lead alloy have been claimed in recent years. Unlike in England and Wales objects do not have to be over 300 years old and finds have been claimed which relate to famous historical figures and events. In the recent past the Treasure Trove system has claimed objects ranging from prehistoric stone tools to Jacobite political medals.
If you are unsure whether a find may be Treasure Trove you can contact the Treasure Trove Unit for advice. Even the most unpromising object can be important, and the staff at the Treasure Trove Unit are happy to advise you whether your find is significant or not.”
As far as our dig finds go we understand that AOC will be referring them to the Treasure Trove Unit along with a request that they are returned in due course to the Museum of Abernethy for inclusion in our collection.
Recently metal detectorists have handed into the Museum a few coins found on local farmland. These also fall into the category of “Treasure Trove”, however it appears that any coins dated clearly later than 1707 are now exempt from the system. Here is a further excerpt from the Treasure Trove website:
At the present time, we don’t need to see any coin which dates after 1707, unless it is found as part of a group of objects of the same age. Likewise, common 17th century coins such as bawbees and turners only need to be reported if they are part of a hoard or a group of finds.
All other coins should be reported, even if you think they are common types. All coins are recorded in the Scottish Coins Register with the aim of building up a picture of the use and distribution of coins in Scotland and how this changed over time. Coins found by metal detectorists have shown how extensive the use of medieval coinage was and also the widespread use of foreign currency in the 16th and 17th centuries. After recording the vast majority of coins are disclaimed and returned to the finder. However there have been a number of significant discoveries of rare and early Scottish coins which have been claimed as Treasure Trove. These have included issues of David I and William the Lion.”
The Museum is open Wednesday – Sunday, 2 – 5pm, until Sunday 2 October. If you haven’t visited yet this year please come along – it’s your Museum and it’s free …. but donations are very welcome!