HISTORIANS were given an early Christmas treat in Peebles at the annual joint lecture of the Tweeddale Society and the Peeblesshire Archaeological Society.

A near-capacity audience filled the Eastgate auditorium on December 11 to hear Dr Martin Goldberg of National Museums Scotland talk about ‘International Connections in the Galloway Hoard’.

The stunning Viking-age treasure found by metal detectorists in Dumfries & Galloway in 2014 is rightly regarded as one of the most incredible discoveries in modern times.

Recently appointed as the Principal Curator of Medieval Archaeology and History in the Museum’s Department of Scottish History & Archaeology, Dr Goldberg masterminded the fundraising campaign to save this treasure for the nation and is now leading what will be the definitive three-year programme of conservation and research into the find.

This significant event in the calendar of the two Peeblesshire Societies was made possible by generous sponsorship received from the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland in the form of a grant from their Regional Fund, the aim of which is to enable local groups around Scotland to host high quality talks by invited guest lecturers.

The hoard represents the richest and most varied collection of rare and exotic Viking-age objects ever found in Britain and Ireland.

Some of the artefacts are of types never found before in the UK; some are known only in hoards from outside Scotland; and several seem to be unique survivals. While largely composed of silver objects, the hoard includes more gold than other UK hoards as well as unusual gemstones and a range of organic materials. These include items of wood, leather, linen, wool and Scotland's earliest examples of silk – all rarely found in Scottish conditions.

Trevor Cowie from the Peeblesshire Archaeology Society told us: "In an enthralling presentation, Martin led us through the contents of the hoard as excavated and prepared for conservation.

"Most astonishing of all is an ornately decorated silver-gilt vessel of Continental manufacture - the only complete lidded vessel of its type ever discovered in Britain and Ireland.

"CT-scanning - courtesy of Borders General Hospital - was undertaken to assist the delicate process of removal of the contents of the vessel, for it turned out to have been jam-packed with an amazingly varied collection of items.

"These included beads and brooches; amulets of glass and rock crystal, and even an exotic little rock crystal flask, probably made and brought from as far afield as the Middle East.

"Martin brought an excellent presentation to a close by stressing how this discovery opens up fresh perspectives for considering an exceptional range of international connections; among the many fascinating aspects of this amazing find, one of the most significant is the way it brings together in a single deposit, objects originating from Ireland and the Irish Sea region, the Anglo-Saxon world, the Holy Roman and Byzantine empires and perhaps even further afield.

"As the three year conservation and research project proceeds, much more information will undoubtedly emerge and it is our hope that further down the line we will have another opportunity to hear about this wonderful discovery that is helping to reshape our understanding of Early Medieval Scotland!"