Found close to the Solway Coast at Upper Rerrick Farm, near Dundrennan, this exquisite object of gilt bronze dates from the 8th century.
It comes from an early church and it is possibly part of a shrine or book cover. It depicts two interlaced animals, each biting the body of the other at a point just above the hip. The design shows Northumbrian influence, its style resembling that of the Lindisfarne Gospels.
Damage to the edge and the presence of lead solder on the reverse indicate that the plaque was wrenched violently from its mount. This and its find site close to the coast may suggest Viking vandalism of an early Christian settlement.
During the 7th century, Northumbria gradually took control of south west Scotland from the ancient Celtic kingdom of Rheged and following the Synod of Whitby in 663 the clergy of the Celtic church withdrew to Ireland. Perhaps this political and religious struggle is what the artist was depicting in the interlace pattern?
In the collection of Dumfries Museum & Camera Obscura.