A hugely important hoard of Roman and Pictish silver has been discovered in a field in Aberdeenshire.

A hugely important hoard of Roman and Pictish silver has been discovered in a field in Aberdeenshire.

More than 100 pieces of hacked-up silver, coins and jewellery have been unearthed by archaeologists from the National Museums of Scotland (NMS) and Aberdeen University.

Described as an important discovery, the find - found at a currently undisclosed location - is the most northerly hoard of late Roman hacksilver to be found in Europe.

Hacksilver is fragments of cut or bent silver which was either used as currency when measured by weight, or carried in such a state for ease of transport.

The new finds include late Roman coins, pieces of late Roman silver vessels, bracelet and brooch fragments and other objects that would have been "highly prized objects in their day" which add to research suggesting the northern Pictish kingdoms were powerful kingdoms in the early medieval period.

Experts from the NMS will now begin analysing, describing and cataloguing the find, and it will be put on temporary display at the King's Museum in Aberdeen early next year from January 20 to May 31.

Research is being funded by a new three year sponsorship deal with the Glenmorangie Company, whose Research Project is being established to allow the NMS to increase its understanding of early medieval Scotland, a period between 300 and 900AD.

The new find is considered to be a significant addition to the story of early Scottish silver.

It will now be studied alongside two other Scottish hacksilver hoards, the Late Roman silver from Traprain Law, East Lothian and the Pictish silver from Norrie??s Law, Fife.

Dr Martin Goldberg, senior curator or early historic collections at the NMS said: "We are delighted that The Glenmorangie Company??s support will enable us to thoroughly research this exciting new find of Late Roman and Pictish silver, discovered through our work with the University of Aberdeen.

"It is a hugely important discovery being Europe??s most northerly Late Roman hacksilver hoard, and also containing otherwise unique Pictish silver.

??The research project will enable us to shed new light on the interaction between the Picts and the Late Roman world and reconsider what some older finds in our collection can tell us about Early Medieval Scotland.??

The project will also fund a new post, The Glenmorangie Research Fellow, who will be Alice Blackwell.

Ms Blackwell holds a masters degree in archaeology from the University of Glasgow, and will lead the research project focussing on the silver of the Late Roman and early Medieval period.

Dr Gordon Noble, senior lecturer at the department of archaeology at Aberdeen University led the fieldwork as part of the University??s Northern Picts project.

He said: "This exciting new find is part of a broader phenomenon of hacksilver hoards which stretch across Europe from the 4th to 6th centuries AD, when the Western Roman Empire was in decline.

"Silver objects were chopped up into bullion and then used and exchanged as payment, bribes, tribute and reward.

"People buried their wealth to keep it safe, but many did not return to recover their hoard."

"Our work in north-east Scotland is increasingly showing that Pictish communities in this area were part of powerful kingdoms in the early medieval period. "

Hamish Torrie, director of social responsibility at Glenmorangie, said: "We are delighted to continue to play our part in helping to unravel the mysteries of early Scotland.

"We wish the Glenmorangie Research Fellow, Alice Blackwell, and National Museums Scotland every success in the next stage of this revealing journey.??

The Northern Picts project at the University of Aberdeen is conducting new fieldwork on key Pictish sites across northern Scotland from Aberdeenshire to Easter Ross.

The project is a partnership with the Tarbat Discovery Centre which houses an important collection of Pictish sculpture.