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GOLD IN PREHISTORIC SCOTLAND

Dr Alison Sheridan introduces a new joint project to explore what we know – and what we have yet to discover – about early gold use in Britain
Fig. 1: Scotland’s earliest gold object? Grave goods, including a stone wristguard with gold rivet caps, from Early Copper Age grave at Culduthel, on the outskirts of Inverness, 2280–2020 BC

CLICK HERE to watch a video on Dr Sheridan’s work on the Prehistoric Gold project

The recent discovery of a huge, 85.7 gramme (2.75 Troy oz) nugget of gold—the ‘Douglas nugget’—at an undisclosed location in Scotland has rekindled the public’s fascination with that most precious of metals, gold. But when was gold first used in Scotland? Who introduced the know-how to work it? And when did Scottish sources of gold begin to be exploited? All these questions, and more, are being tackled by a current initiative spearheaded by Dr Alison Sheridan of National Museums Scotland and Dr Jana Horak of Amgueddfa Cymru-National Museum Wales in Cardiff. Their joint project, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, has created an international research network that takes stock of what we know, what we don’t know and what we need to find out about early gold use, not just in Scotland but in all of Britain’s auriferous (gold-bearing) regions, from 2450 BC until 800 BC.

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About History Scotland

Explore centuries of history and archaeology in the first History Scotland issue of 2019. Inside you’ll find history, archaeology, genealogy and heritage from some of the country’s top experts. Top reasons to read this issue: • Discover the tough reality of life as a Dundee whaler – and why the city’s female population was crucial to the success of the whaling industry • Read about Mary of Guelders – the Stewart queen who used her European connections to succeed in her royal role • See amazing images from the restoration of Monteath Mausoleum • Discover history events around the country during the winter months • Explore a new project to discover what we know – and have yet to discover – about the uses of gold in prehistoric Scotland