Viking hoard ‘nationally important’, say York experts

27 Mar 2013 @ 9.59 pm
| News
The Viking hoard, which was examined at the Yorkshire Museum

Issued by York Museums Trust

A gold sword pommel, a unique silver neck ring and a silver armlet are part of a significant Viking Hoard which has been found in Bedale, North Yorkshire.

A total of 29 silver ingots, four other silver neck rings, gold rivets and half a silver brooch were also found in the hoard which is believed to be from the late ninth or early tenth century. 
Part of the hoard was found by metal detectorist Stuart Campbell who then informed archaeologists who uncovered the rest.

The Yorkshire Museum, York, will now try and raise the funds to purchase the hoard to keep it in the county on public display.  

Andrew Morrison, head curator at the Yorkshire Museum, said: “This is a significant and nationally important find which we hope will shed new light on Yorkshire at that time.

“The artefacts uncovered are typical of a Viking Hoard, with the majority of it being silver ingots which were used for currency. However the gold sword pommel and a unique silver neck ring are incredibly beautiful and rare finds. We now hope to be able to raise the funds needed to keep them in Yorkshire.”

The artefacts are currently at the British Museum, London, until they are officially declared treasure and valued. The hoard has yet to go to inquest to be officially declared treasure, so the exact funds needed are not yet known.

The discovery of the hoard was made in May last year on land in Bedale (the landowner would like the actual site to remain secret).

Mr Campbell and his metal detecting partner realised they had found something significant and reported it to the North Yorkshire finds liaison officer of the Portable Antiquities Scheme, Rebecca Griffiths, based at the Yorkshire Museum. She and her colleague from the museum then went to the site to excavate the rest of the hoard.

No coins were present in the hoard to date it, however by studying the contents and comparing it to other hoards, archaeologists believe it is from the late ninth or early tenth century.

The large pommel found is believed to be from an Anglo-Saxon sword. This is made from iron and is inlaid with plaques of gold foil. These plaques bear Trewhiddle style decoration (named after a hoard found in Trewhiddle, Cornwall), consisting of animals, which was a common style all over England in the ninth century. This decoration is usually applied to silver and copper alloy and its use on gold is rare: its use on large foils, like those found here, is otherwise unknown.

With the pommel were four oval ring mounts from the grip of a sword. These are made from gold and they bear incised Trewhiddle style animal interlace. Six, tiny, dome headed, gold rivets may also have been used on a sword hilt.

The unique neck ring is made up of four ropes of twisted silver strands joined together at each end. They terminate in hooks which would have been linked together when the collar was worn.

Like most of the hoards of the period the Bedale find is dominated by silver ingots of which there were 29. There are also some pieces cut from the ends of ingots with the characteristic single chisel chopped across them. Nick marks can be seen on some of the ingots showing that the quality of the silver had been tested with the point of a knife.

There are three other twisted neck rings, one of which has been cut in two as ‘hack silver’. The hoard also contained a piece of a ‘Permian’ ring, cut as hack-silver. Such rings consist of round sectioned bars, the surface of which are covered with close-packed, fine spiral grooves.

A broad, flat arm-ring is of Hiberno-Scandinavian type, made by the Vikings in Ireland. This is decorated with a pattern of stamp impressed grooves.  Also from Ireland are the hack-silver remains of a bossed penannular brooch.

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