Protecting a Pict?

further thoughts on the inscribed silver chape from St Ninian’s Isle, Shetland

Katherine Forsyth (Author)

Pictish language, Inscription, Epigraphy, Palaeography, Script, Literacy, Wax-tablets, Weaponry, Ogham
St Ninian’s Isle, Shetland, Scotland, UK
Early Medieval, Iron Age


A detailed discussion of the inscription on the silver chape (NMS FC 282) discovered in 1958 as part of a large hoard of silver from the major early medieval ecclesiastical site on St Ninian’s Isle, Shetland (NGR: HU 3685 2090). Previous interpretations and a range of parallels are explored. A new interpretation of the inscription is proposed: that it contains a Pictish male personal name, Resad. This has implications for previous arguments in favour of an Anglo-Saxon origin for the metalwork. Features of the lettering previously interpreted as errors are instead argued to indicate familiarity with the type of cursive writing used on wax-tablets, rather than bookhand. It is argued that the inscription was designed and manufactured by a single literate artisan, possibly in an ecclesiastical workshop.


Canmore ID 587


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How to Cite
Forsyth, K. (2020). Protecting a Pict?. Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, 149, 249-276.