Gunnister Man Coins

Over 70 years after his discovery in a Northmavine peat bog, Gunnister Man continues to intrigue.

Last week Shetland Museum curator, Carol Christiansen, came across this little piece of tissue paper, which had rubbings of the coins Gunnister Man hadn’t yet spent at the time of his death, c.1695.

We know that he had three coins in his little knitted purse but here were rubbings for four coins. Some super-macro photographs were sent to Lyndsay McGill, Early Modern Curator at National Museums Scotland to investigate further. She believes the three rubbings on the top right are the same reverse side of the 1681 2-stuiver piece (pre-decimal coin used in the Netherlands), with the obverse on the top left. Below are the 1683 1/6 Öre with the three crowns of Swedish King Charles XI easily seen on the left and the 1690 2-stuiver piece with the crowned shield of arms readily visible on the obverse side to the right.

On the back of the tissue are sketches of his suit, his two caps and his spoon.

The rubbings and sketches were done in the days immediately after his discovery, when the remains were taken to Sullom while the authorities decided what to do with them.

We are thankful to Erik Erasmuson for donating the tissue paper, along with other objects from Da Punds.

The Gunnister Man find is nationally important. Dating from around 1700 his clothing is one of the few complete outfits found in Britain belonging to an ‘ordinary’ person from this period. In 2008 Carol Christiansen was tasked with reconstructing the clothing and textiles from the original finds, which she did in collaboration with National Museums Scotland, Jamieson and Smith and two Swedish colleagues. These replicas allow us to see what the artefacts looked like when the man was still alive. They are on permanent display in the Shetland Museum and Archives.

All objects in the original find went to Edinburgh and are now in the collections of National Museums of Scotland. Immediately after the burial was discovered, the finds were taken to a local house, where some people knitted replicas of the stockings and purse. These replicas are on display in Tangwick Haa Museum in Northmavine, Shetland.

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