AN “exceptionally rare” solid-gold sword pommel discovered by a metal detectorist and which dates back to the early medieval period has come into the ownership of Scotland’s national museums.

The impressive find was located near Blair Drummond, Stirling, and is believed to date back to 700AD.

Measuring 5.5cm wide and weighing 25g, the golden knob is valued at £30,000.

On recommendation of the Scottish Archaeological Finds Allocation Panel, the King’s and Lord Treasurer’s Remembrancer allocated the find to National Museums Scotland (NMS), which described the item as “exceptionally rare”.

Dr Alice Blackwell, senior curator of medieval archaeology and history at NMS, said the opulent object, decorated in gold filigree, is like nothing else found in the UK before.

Despite its impressive, decorative detail, she said it remains unclear as to who exactly it belonged to more than a thousand years ago.

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“The pommel is certainly unique,” Blackwell said. “It’s a bit of a cultural, artistic melting pot, so it’s difficult to say where it fits or was made.

“It certainly has a lot of inheritance from Anglo-Saxon art, but it belongs to this period of the most amazing creative fusion where different types of styles and art and techniques for making things were all melted together to make something new.”

Blackwood said the pommel fits the “insular art” style, also used in illuminated manuscripts such as the Lindisfarne Gospels.

Closer inspection revealed the piece has eyes and a beak at each end.

Blackwood said these represent the head of a bird of prey pointing outwards from the centre of the object.

“The decoration is quite clearly Christian,” she said, “mixing old fashioned animal, protective motifs that you see on Anglo-Saxon art with very clear Christian iconography.

“There are two panels, one on each side, and one has a symbolic cross made of geometric shapes, and the other looks like a pot plant.

“And those twin motifs are the cross, as in the crucifixion, and the tree of life, which is about resurrection.

“But you also have mythical beasts crawling up the sides, so there’s all sorts going on.

“It’s so visually rich which sets it apart from anything else that’s been found in the UK.”