08 Apr Hostage Stone to Star in New Viking Exhibition
The Inchmarnock Project (1999–2004), undertaken on behalf of the island’s owner – Lord Smith of Kelvin – was one of the company’s earliest major projects, project-managed in the field and through to publication by Chris Lowe. Chris has also contributed to the exhibition catalogue with a short account of the stone and the role of the Dublin Vikings in slave-raiding in Ireland and around the Irish Sea in the 9th and 10th centuries.
The stone was discovered during our excavation of the medieval churchyard on Inchmarnock. It was found in two pieces, roughly 4m apart and a year apart. The smaller piece was found in 2001 during the excavation of an exploratory trench to the north of the medieval church; the larger fragment came to light in 2002 during excavation of the area to the northwest of the church. Excavation here revealed the fugitive remains of the late first millennium monastic workshops and the site of the monastic schoolhouse, the latter inferred on the basis of the largest corpus of inscribed and incised slate fragments known from early medieval Scotland.
The image on the upper face of the stone has been interpreted as depicting a raiding party as they frog-march their unfortunate captive off to their boat. On the reverse are a cruciform pattern and a series of letter-forms, the epigraphy of which indicates an 8th or 9th century date.
Full details of the stone and the project itself are available in Inchmarnock: an early historic island monastery and its archaeological landscape (Lowe, C E (ed) 2008) which was published in 2008 as a Society of Antiquaries of Scotland monograph. The project was the runner-up in the Archaeological Project of the Year for 2010, organised by British Archaeological Awards.
The exhibition at the Viking Ship Museum, Roskilde runs from 11th April until 30th December 2014. Chris has been invited to attend a private viewing of the exhibition when it is opened by Her Royal Highness the Crown Princess of Denmark on 10th April.