Experts are to embark on a major new project which could unlock secrets of the origins of modern-day Scotland.
The National Museum of Scotland, which is spearheading the project, says it will involve the fresh examination of archaeological evidence dating from the 9th to 12th century “which underpins the formation of the nation state of Scotland.”
The latest research techniques will be deployed to rexamine centuries-old objeects from the museum’s collection centre on Edinburg’s waterfront.
It is hoped major new discoveries may be made at archaeological sites around the country where historic objects dating from the period have previously been unearthed.
It is hoped the new project will help fill in significant gaps in knowledge about the formation of Alba, the forerunner of the kingdom of Scotland.
It may also cast fresh light on “the intellectual, political and economic connections across what would become Scotland and with the rest of the world.”
Dr Martin Goldberg, principal curator of medieval archaeology and history at the museum, said the era being explored had previously been studied more from historical evidence than archaeological.
Dr Goldberg added: “This is a critical period of Scotland’s story, providing the building blocks for what was to become the fully formed medieval kingdom of the Scots, which in turn forms the basis of much of the modern Scotland that we now recognise.
“The project offers an exciting opportunity to deliver new insights into iconic objects and place them within the bigger story of the coalescing medieval kingdom, insights that will be of great value and interest to the academic community and the general public.
“The period we’ll be looking at starts with the ninth century and the Viking raids in the west side of what would become Scotland.
“At that time there was a real mosaic of different peoples competing. There was then a coalescing of a Gaelic kingdom in the east side of the country which became the foundation of the medieval kingdom of Scotland.
“B y the time of the 12th century things had changed dramatically. There was a king, DavidI, who was minting coins, there were beginning to use things like charters for land-holdings, there were monastic movements coming in setting up large abbeys and it was starting to look much more like a European kingdowm.
“Between 800 and 1200 Scotland didn’t really exist. But by the time you get to 1200 it has become this political thing that we know that can follow through historical records.
“Part of what we’ll be looking at are the holes in the historical records before then and using objects in our collection. We know a lot about the beginning and end of this period. We’ll be examining our objects and material to try to fill some of them them.”
The research is being funded under a long-standing partnership between the museum and Highland whisky firm Glenmorangie. It will also help to pay for the museum to take an exhibition of silver treasures around the country.