Two men have denied charges relating to a hoard of Viking coins and silver. Roger Pilling, 73, of Loveclough, Lancashire, and Craig Best, 44, from Bishop Auckland, County Durham, appeared briefly before Durham Crown Court to plead not guilty to all charges.
Durham Police had previously reported that officers seized a large number of coins and a silver ingot in two raids. The haul contained coins of Alfred the Great of Wessex and Ceolwulf II of Mercia.
The estimated value of the hoard is £1 million.
King Alfred won a battle against the Vikings in AD 878, and it is believed the coins belong to an undeclared hoard, which would be near the location of the Viking army at that time.
Dr Gareth Williams, curator of early medieval coins and Viking collections at the British Museum, described the collection as a “nationally important hoard” which could “add significantly” to the understanding of the political history of England. The coins could change the understanding of history at this time. Until now, it was believed that Ceolwulf of Mercia was a puppet of the Vikings and a minor nobleman rather than a proper king. But the coins show two rulers standing side by side as allies, which suggests a very different story.