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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 March 2008, 14:58 GMT
Medieval belt buckle discovered
The medieval belt buckle

Archaeologists unearthed a medieval belt buckle in Perth following work to repair a collapsed sewer.

The group were allowed to examine the area in the Kirkgate as Scottish Water repaired the network.

The copper alloy buckle is believed to date back to the 12th Century and was found along with animal bones, shells and pottery.

A panel of experts will decide where the buckle should be housed, but it is hoped it will end up in Perth Museum.

Catherine Smith from SUAT archaeological consultants told the BBC Scotland news website how they discovered the treasure.

"We found this encrusted buckle which had been folded over, but was obviously something nice," she said.

People walk along these streets every day and just don't realise what a wealth of information about the past is under their feet
Catherine Smith

"So we brought it back here and carefully unfolded the copper and discovered this most beautifully designed medieval buckle, which we think probably dates back to the 12th Century.

"It's such a piece of work that it probably belonged to somebody with a bit of money.

"We suggested maybe a merchant in the medieval burgh because of course Perth was quite an important trading post."

The buckle is similar to work found in Scandinavia, but it is believed it was made in Perth or elsewhere in Scotland.

A padlock, also dating from about 1150 onwards, was also found at the site, but it is not in such good condition.

Historical objects are often well preserved under the streets of Perth because the area is very water-logged.

'Treasure house'

The water stops oxygen getting in and decomposing items like leather and wood.

Also, Perth has not been subject to as much modern development as other towns, so the archaeology has lain almost undisturbed.

Ms Smith said: "Perth is actually a treasure house for this kind of material.

"The only comparable place in Britain is probably York, where they have the same problems with floods. We see it as a modern problem but in a way it magically preserves all the archaeology.

"In fact, any time you dig a hole in the High Street you're liable to hit archaeology.

"People walk along these streets every day and just don't realise what a wealth of information about the past is under their feet."

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