The Scandinavians first appeared in Scotland at the end of the eighth century. An artefact depicting this early contact is the "Hostage Stone" found on Inchmarnock, a small island off the coast of Bute. In 2014 this small stone travelled to Denmark, a journey that would surely have amazed its inscriber!
Bute is nowadays a peaceful island lying in the Firth of Clyde
But it was far from peaceful in the days of the early Viking raids. The "Hostage Stone" depicts a traumatic event for its inhabitants.
The stone is thought to be the work of a young novice at the monastery on Inchmarnock. It depicts a scene where a hairy, scary Viking is leading away a monk carrying a reliquary. Discovered in excavations beginning in 1999, the stone is now on display in the Bute Museum
National Museums Scotland has fortuitously discovered rare, ancient video footage confirming details of the stone's origin
Anne Speirs (Curator of Bute Museum), Louise Henriksen of the Viking Ship Museum and Crown Princess Mary of Denmark at the opening ceremony.
In 2014 the Viking Ship Museum at Roskilde in Denmark held a Special Exhibition, "The World in the Viking Age". The exhibits included the Hostage Stone, brought over from Bute on loan.
Roskilde Viking Ship Museum
Stimulated by this story, I visited the Viking Ship Museum in March 2015. The Hostage Stone was returned to Bute in December 2014 at the end of the Special Exhibition, but this excellent Museum is well worth a visit at any time, as also is Roskilde Cathedral and the Danish National Museum in Copenhagen.