Hostage Stone returns to Bute Museum

Anne Speirs, curator of Bute Museum, places the Hostage Stone in its display case in The Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde, Denmark.
Anne Speirs, curator of Bute Museum, places the Hostage Stone in its display case in The Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde, Denmark.

The Hostage Stone - an internationally-important Viking stone drawing found on the island of Inchmarnock - has been the focus of attention at a Danish exhibition.

The stone - which was found during excavations on the island off Bute’s west coast - has recently returned from the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde in Denmark after being loaned for inclusion in the ‘The World in the Viking Age’ exhibition, which was seen by more than 133,300 people.

Bute Museum curator, Anne Speirs - who took the stone there and back - told us: “They [Viking Ship Museum] were desperate to get the stone.

“It’s co-owned by the National Museum of Scotland, and they’d said ‘No chance, you haven’t asked in time’.

“We’d never done an international loan before so initially we said no, but they were down on bended knee pleading, saying how easy they could make it for us.

“The man who put the exhibition together, who is a professional archaeologist, was desperate to see it, and he stood over us as we unwrapped it.”

Experts say the carving on the stone shows a bearded man being led away to a ship by a long-haired warrior wearing chain mail, and was probably made by a boy educated by monks on Inchmarnock.

The stone is thought to date from around the ninth century AD, and forms part of a collection unearthed during the five-year Inchmarnock Research Project, instigated by the island’s owner, Lord Smith of Kelvin, between 1999 and 2004.

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