Orkney Islands Council
Working together for a better Orkney
07 June 2010

An 1,100 year-old Viking plaque is returning to the Orkney Museum today (June 7) after being on loan to the Jorvik Viking Centre in York since February.

The Scar Plaque, a whalebone decorated with engravings, is one of Orkney’s most treasured archaeological finds. It was recovered along with swords, combs, and jewellery during an excavation on Sanday in 1991 which revealed a pagan Norse burial boat and the remains of three people – a man, woman and child.

The plaque has been on loan to the internationally renowned Jorvik Viking Centre in York, which has just celebrated its 16 millionth visitor, and has been on display there along side objects excavated by the York Archaeological Trust at the famous Viking Dig in Coppergate.

Trust Curator Christine McDonnell who returned the finds to Orkney said: “It is real treat for us to have the loan of such an iconic and rare find as the whale bone plaque.

“The people buried at Scar are evidently of some wealth but they would have felt very much at home surrounded by the sorts of everyday objects – beads made from Baltic amber, antler combs, wooden cups and bowls, iron knives, silvered costume jewellery, leather shoes and scabbards and the like - seen in Jorvik which were lost or thrown away over a thousand years ago”.

Sarah Maltby, Director of Attractions at Jorvik, said: ”It’s been marvellous to have had the wonderful Orkney finds over the last few months.

“We are most grateful to the people of Orkney for this opportunity for 109 thousand of our visitors to Jorvik from across the globe to see the plaque.

“Hopefully many will now be inspired to visit Orkney and enjoy first hand the wealth of the islands’ archaeological sites. We hope the strong links forged with Orkney over our common heritage will continue to bear fruit.”

Curator at the Orkney Museum, Janette Park, said: “The Scar plaque is an object of international significance as an artefact from one of the finest and best preserved Norse burial boats ever uncovered.
“We are very pleased to loan it to other institutions, making it more accessible and giving it the wide exposure it deserves.

“I am sure many local people and visitors to the county will be glad to have it back in Orkney in time for the St Magnus Festival and the summer tourist season.”