The final talk in our 2021/22 season was given by Emily Freeman, manager of the Treasure Trove Unit in Scotland. Emily explained that all ownerless artifacts found in Scotland belong to the Crown and anyone finding such objects should report them to the Treasure Trove who then carry out an investigation and object assessment and, where appropriate, investigate findspots. An Allocation Panel then decides if the find is significant enough to be offered to a museum with a payment being made to the finder, or if the object should be returned to the finder.
In June 2020 Mariusz Stepien, a metal detectorist, discovered some metal discs in a grass field near Peebles. He contacted Emily and an initial excavation of the site was set up. The metal discs were found to be part of a larger collection of objects including a complete sword in its scabbard and the finds were dated to the Bronze Age. The discs and buckles appeared to be part of a complete horse harness and cart. The objects had become tangled around large stones and the mineralised organic matter – leather and wood – was so fragile that the decision was taken to excavate the entire hoard.
A block much larger than the hoard itself was removed from the ground and taken to Southampton University where there is a CT scanner large enough to take the block. After the initial scan some of the soil and stones from under the hoard was removed and the hoard scanned again to get a more detailed view.
Very little is known about horse harness from this era, and it is hope that it will be possible to learn from this find. The work on the hoard will take a considerable amount of time.