ONE thousand years after the Vikings looted our monasteries, a Kerry archaeologist is tracking the booty all the way back to Scandinavia - after winning a major fellowship recently.
Archaeologist and Collections Officer at Kerry County Museum, Griffin Murray, is off to Scandinavia as part of his research into bishops' and abbots' crosiers from early medieval Ireland.
The two-year-long fellowship will see Mr Murray working out of UCC and was awarded to him by the Irish Research Council - for his work on bishops' and abbots' crosiers from early medieval times.
One of the treasures his research will focus on is the River Laune crosier, found near Dunloe Castle in 1867.
"The River Laune crosier is one of the great treasures of Ireland," Mr Murray said.
"It is not only one of the most complete surviving examples, but it is one of the most luxurious, being made of silver and gold, which attests to the wealth and importance of the early medieval Church in the Killarney area."
The research will take the archaeologist as far as Britain and Scandinavia - as he goes to investigate 1,000-yearold crimes:
"Some crosiers were stolen during raids on Irish churches by the Vikings, who then brought them home to Scandinavia. Indeed, a number of Irish crosier fragments have been found in Viking graves in Scandinavia and have since ended up in Scandinavian museums, so that's why I'll be heading there."
The fellowship is one of the more fiercely-contested postitions in the history world and the award is being taken as a huge vote of confidence in the work of the Kerry County Museum.