Bronze Age hoard to return home to the Highlands

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A Bronze Age hoard which includes a number of axe heads and a possible cloak fastener will return home to the Highlands to go on show.

The Poolewe Hoard, which is around 2,800-years old, is set to become a key exhibition at the new Gairloch Heritage Museum in Wester Ross after being released by the National Museums Scotland.

The Poolewe Hoard will return to the Highlands to go on show at the new heritage museum at Gairloch in Wester Ross. (pictured). PIC: Creative Commons/Flickr/Phillip Capper.

The Poolewe Hoard will return to the Highlands to go on show at the new heritage museum at Gairloch in Wester Ross. (pictured). PIC: Creative Commons/Flickr/Phillip Capper.

The axes, rings and an ornament were discovered by a local man in the late 19th century during peat-digging on the north side of the River Ewe.

The items were deposited in the ground, possibly as part of a burial ritual.

The hoard was acquired on loan from a private collection by the National Museum of Scotland where it has been on show for many years.

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

The Poolewe Hoard was on show at the National Museum of Scotland for many years. PIC: National Museums of Scotland.

The Poolewe Hoard was on show at the National Museum of Scotland for many years. PIC: National Museums of Scotland.

The items will now return to Wester Ross to go an show at the new Gairloch Heritage Museum which is due to open in new premises in April 2019 following a £2.4m fundraising effort.

Dr Karen Buchanan, curator of Gairloch Heritage Museum,said: “We are delighted that the Poolewe Hoard is coming home.”

A Neolithic porcellanite axe, which was found between Cove on Loch Ewe and Rua Reidh lighthouse, will also go on loan to the museum from a private collection.

READ MORE: Inside a 19th Century time capsule found in the Highlands

The new Gairloch Heritage Museum is due to open in April 2019. PIC: Contributed.

The new Gairloch Heritage Museum is due to open in April 2019. PIC: Contributed.

The axe was likely made in Glens of Antrim, Northern Ireland at the first Neolithic axe factory in the British Isles.

A Bronze Age carved beaker will also be reunited with a stone ball found at same site at Bruchaig, Kinlochewe, in the late 19th Century. The two items had become separated but will go on show together at Gairloch.

Dr Buchanan said: “It’s going to be a really exciting year. I am extremely proud of our volunteers and our fundraising efforts.

“For a small community like ours and a volunteer-led organisation like our museum to have raised £2.4m is just incredible.

“Whilst the bulk of the money is from big funders, a very considerable amount has come from the efforts of the community themselves, whether that be people putting their hands in their pocket or organising events to raise money for the museum.

“Now we are going to create a fantastic attraction for the area but also a place where we can look after the community’s heritage for the future.”

She described the museum as an “important repository” for the community’s heritage with a large number of people lending items for safekeeping.

The museum already houses the first Pictish stone found on the west coast of mainland Scotland and its Gaelic language and literature collection is highly regarded by scholars.

A spokeswoman for National Museums Scotland said: “We have in our collection a bronze cup-ended ornament, probably a fastener for a cloak, which is part of the Poolewe Hoard and which we are pleased to be lending to Gairloch Heritage Museum where it will be displayed alongside other items from the hoard.”