AN intricate Anglo-Saxon cross found as part of the so-called Galloway Hoard was probably worn by a bishop shortly before it was buried 1000 years ago, experts have revealed.

The Galloway Hoard is described as “the richest collection of rare and unique Viking-age objects ever found in Britain or Ireland”, and was buried around AD900. The stunning silver and gold cross was found among the treasure, depicting the four saints who wrote the Gospels.

The cross had to be cleaned with porcupine quills by experts.

It is now thought to have been worn by a high-ranking official such as a bishop, and may have been recently used when it was buried on church land in Dumfries and Galloway.

Its surviving silver coil chain, strengthened through the centre with a thread of animal gut, was wrapped around the cross when it was deposited.

Researchers said: “Everything about the pectoral cross is rare.

“Few Viking-age hoards have Anglo-Saxon material in them, and the presence of ecclesiastical material is rarer still.

“Of the crosses surviving from hoards, very few have suspension chains.”