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Silverdale Hoard to go on display in York

The Silverdale Hoard is to go on display at the Jorvik Viking Centre, in York. It is the first time that it has been shown outside the county of Lancashire, where it was found.

Finding the hoard

Darren Webster found the hoard in September 2011 near Silverdale, Lancashire. His wife had given him a metal detector for Christmas.  On the day of the find, he was detecting in a field that he had detected many times before, without much joy. After 20 minutes he got a strong signal.

Photo: British Museum CC By SA 4.0

After digging down some 18 inches, Darren was initially disappointed when it appeared to be only a scruffy piece of lead. It was actually a lead container, which is shown here behind some of its contents.

He recalled that as soon as he saw the arm rings, including one unusual one combining Carolingian and Irish design elements, he knew the hoard was Viking.

It was recorded at the PAS as LANCUM-65C1B4. All of the small finds, except one coin, were inside the lead container. The larger arm rings were underneath it.

The Silverdale hoard

Photo: British Museum CC By SA 4.0

The hoard consists of a variety of silver items including 27 coins, 10 arm-rings, 2 finger-rings, 14 ingots, 6 brooch fragments, a fine wire braid and silver fragments, known of hacksilver (used as a form of currency).

Of the 27 pennies, many date from King Alfred’s reign. Some are minted by the Saxons and others are Viking copies. One piece of jewelry is made from Islamic coins twisted together.

Historical context

A similar but much larger hoard was found in 1840 at Cuerdale, near Preston. Both are thought to have been buried around AD 900. In 901 the Vikings were thrown out of Dublin and moved to Wirral, Chester and Lancashire. A couple of years earlier Alfred the Great had died; his son, Edward the Elder, continued to rule territories in the south and his sister,  Aethelflaed, ruled territories up as far as the Mersey. For the next twenty years the Vikings and the Saxon armies of Edward and Aethelflaed engaged in a series of battles.

The Silverdale Hoard exhibition

The Uncover the Silverdale Hoard at JORVIK exhibition started on 8 February.

 Harthacnut penny. Photo: Lancashire County Museum Service

Christine McDonnell, head of collections and archives at the Jorvik Viking Centre, said: “ Hoards provide historians with a snapshot of society at the time they were hidden. This hoard, for example, features a coin minted in the name of Harthacnut – a ruler whose name was previously lost to history.

Dr Gareth Williams of the British Museum will present a live-streamed talk delving into the find’s significance, and detailing how it was conserved. This talk is part of the free online festival That JORVIK Viking Thing, running from 19 – 27 February 2022.

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