"Organic lump" holds rare Celtic brooch

In 1891, the British Museum acquired a lump of organic material found at a Viking burial site in Lilleberge, Norway. The material had metal pieces in it, but no one took the time to examine it further - until recently when Curator Barry Ager took a second look and ordered the material x-rayed. (photo)

Experts were thrilled with what was discovered. "It turned out, quite remarkably, to be this Celtic disc… It's extremely exciting… It's a very rare example of its sort within the collection… shows contact between the British Isles and Norway in the Viking period … objects seized as loot in this country and taken back," said Ager.

The brooch may have once been part of a Celtic reliquary which was looted by Viking raiders. The organic material is believed to have been a box in which the brooch, and other personal objects, were buried with the remains.