1,800-year-old “terrifying” Celtic trumpet to go on show

The original head of the Deskford Carnyx, found in Banffshire 200 years ago. PIC Contributed

The original head of the Deskford Carnyx, found in Banffshire 200 years ago. PIC Contributed

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A Celtic trumpet which was used to terrify the enemy during battle is to return home to the North East.

The Deskford Carnyx, a wind instrument which dates from between 80 and 200AD, is the centrepiece of a new exhibition, The Treasures of Historic Banffshire.

The reconstructed instrument which can be played. PIC Contributed.

The reconstructed instrument which can be played. PIC Contributed.

The Iron Age piece was discovered around 200 years ago in the parish of Deskford in the former county of Banffshire and will go on show at Duff House, near Banff, this weekend.

The distinctive animal-headed horn, shaped from sheet bronze and brass to resemble a wild boar, would have been played during war and ceremonies to inspire or terrify listeners.

READ MORE: 4,000-year-old Bronze Age axe heads found in Argyll

Today only the head survives, although it would once have featured a crest, ears, enamelled eyes and a wooden tongue.

A life-size replica of the Gundestrup cauldron, found in Denmark, will also go on show at Duff House. PIC Roberto Fortuna & Kira Ursem/National Museum of Denmark.

A life-size replica of the Gundestrup cauldron, found in Denmark, will also go on show at Duff House. PIC Roberto Fortuna & Kira Ursem/National Museum of Denmark.

Experts were able to reconstruct a version of the instrument which can be played, with both the original remains and the remodelled version among the star attractions at the recent Celts exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.

The Duff House exhibition will also feature the Gaulcross Hoard of Pictish silver jewellery, with the public able to see a pin, bangle and chain discovered in the 1830s in Fordyce, a small village around seven miles from the coast at Portsoy.

READ MORE: Replica Iron Age broch planned for Caithness

Also on show will be a life-size replica of the Gundestrup cauldron, one of the most important finds from Iron Age Europe which was discovered in Denmark in the 19th century, and a selection of Banff silver.

During the 1700s and 1800s, Banff had a thriving silver trade, including its own Banff town assay mark, with plans in place to create a Scottish Centre of Silversmithing in the town.

The Treasures of Historic Banffshire exhibition is being held in partnership with Aberdeenshire Council, Historic Environment Scotland and National Museums Scotland.

Dr Fraser Hunter, Principal Curator, Iron Age, Roman, Early History at National Museums Scotland said: “The Deskford carnyx is a wonderful object, both highly significant and hugely evocative. It will be a particular treat for people to be able to view it alongside the magnificent replica of the Gundestrup Cauldron.

“Among the many significant details of the Cauldron is the fact that it actually depicts Iron Age people playing the carnyx. Given that the object was probably made in south-eastern Europe, it shows how widely connections ran between the peoples of Iron Age Europe.”

Chair of Aberdeenshire Council’s Education, Learning & Leisure Committee, Cllr Alison Evison, said: “The Treasures of Historic Banffshire exhibition is an incredibly exciting project which brings together objects of huge national and international importance.

“It is wonderful to welcome back the Deskford Carnyx and Gaulcross Hoard to the North East and highlight examples of Banff silver, both new and old.

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