Between 1819 and 1822, during the excavation of a cairn known as Norrie’s Law at Balman farm, a hoard of silver was discovered.
At the base of the cairn a cist was found, and it was either near or within this that the hoard was uncovered. Weighing around 12.5kg in total it included two penannular brooches, a pin with decorated pinhead, some rings, fragments of plates, four Roman coins and a pair of leaf-shaped engraved plaques.
The plaques are of particular interest, being engraved with the double-disc and Z-rod symbol along with a stylised dog’s head which are reminiscent of the Lindisfarne style, and are thought to date to the 7th or 8th centuries AD.
Some of the hoard was sold for scrap by a pedlar with the name Forbes, while other items were “bestowed” locally. Later the proprietor of Largo, General Durham, seems to have commissioned a dig at the cairn and discovered more items. In the 1830s the remaining six items were donated to the then National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland, now the National Museums of Scotland, by Lady Durham.
The surviving items include a diamond-shaped mount decorated with a Pictish double disc and Z-rod symbol and an animal head, possibly a dog. It may possibly have been one of several mounts used to decorate a helmet.
Another surviving item is a spiral-decorated sheet of silver which has been interpreted as another kind of mount although its exact purpose is unknown. It has been partially cut up, presumably for the silver to be used for payment or in other items.
A brooch pin that also survived features a terminal decorated with three spiral pattern designs.
A forged brooch consists of two flat sections of silver connected by a twisted bar (labelled as “2” in the photo below – the brooch labelled “1” is from Tummel Bridge and the brooch fragment labelled “3” is from the Gaulcross hoard).
The remaining two items are another silver brooch which was restored in the 19th century when two halves were joined by a silver sleeve, and a silver spiral finger ring of a type which were more normally made from bronze. Both these items can be seen in the photo at the top of the page.
Alternative names for Norrie's Law
Norries Law; Norrieslaw Cottage