Viking treasure found in Furness
Last updated at 16:09, Friday, 08 July 2011
VIKING treasure has been unearthed in the Furness countryside.
The 92 silver coins and artefacts – among them ingots and one near-complete silver bracelet – were discovered and brought to the surface in May by a locally-based metal detectorist.
Among the coins is a pair of Arabic dirhams – silver currency which circulated in 10th Century Europe.
The hoard has been provisionally valued at tens of thousands of pounds and is the largest amount of Viking treasure ever found in Furness.
The identity of the detectorist is not being disclosed, neither is the site of the cache, or the names of the owners of the land where the hoard was unearthed. But it is understood that they wish to co-operate in the best interests of historical research.
Since its discovery, the hoard has been kept at Barrow’s Dock Museum.
Dock Museum curator Sabine Skae accompanied the hoard to the British Museum last week where it was closely examined by a team of experts.
The Viking hoard will go on display to the press today before it returns to the British Museum.
The British Museum academics’ verdict will later be made known to the coroner who is likely to confirm the hoard as bona fide ‘treasure.’
The hoard will then be valued by the independent Treasure Valuation Committee, and the Dock Museum hopes to be able to acquire it permanently.
Ms Skae, who has been in charge of collections and exhibitions at the Dock Museum for almost eight years, said: “This is a very exciting find for Furness. It has national significance because hoards from this period are rare and also nothing has been found in such quantity in this area before.
“While it is difficult, at this stage, to place a precise value on the find, it is likely to be worth tens of thousands of pounds.
“I would also like to stress that it’s really important for metal detectorists to speak to landowners before conducting any searches.”
The find is being billed as ‘the missing link’ by experts who say it is the long-awaited significant evidence of material culture of the 9th and 10th Century Vikings who would have settled and operated in the peninsula.
It is thought that the silver was put into the ground sometime around 955 AD when the Viking invaders had established footholds in the north of England.
Dr Gareth Williams, Viking expert at the British Museum, said: “On the basis of the information and photographs that I have seen so far, this is a fascinating hoard.
“By the mid-950s, most of England had become integrated into a single kingdom, with a regulated coinage, but this part of the north-west was not integrated into the English kingdom until much later, and the hoard reflects that.
“It’s a good reminder of how much finds like this can tell us about the history of different parts of the country.
“I hope that the Dock Museum is successful in acquiring such an important find for the region.”
Barrow Borough Council leader Cllr Dave Pidduck said: “This is an interesting find from an historical point of view, in terms of our links with the past it is extremely important.
“The hoard is something you can actually touch that links us with the Vikings.
“The schoolboy’s image of the Vikings storming ashore from their longboats may not be so accurate because they might have settled here as farmers and traders and this find can shed light on that.”
Barrow and Furness MP John Woodcock hailed the discovery as an important development for the area both in terms of its historical significance and for the capacity it holds in boosting tourism.
Mr Woodcock said: “The Furness peninsula is off the beaten track, but it is steeped in history.
“Furness Abbey and the castle on Piel stand as silent witnesses to some of the most important events in the history of these islands and people from all over the UK and across world come to visit.
“But this discovery has the potential to give Furness an extra dimension in tourism.
“It is a rare find and we very much hope the Dock Museum will eventually be able to acquire the hoard on a permanent basis where a new audience will be keen to view this link with the Vikings of long ago.”
Furness bristles with place-names whose origins are Norse – such as Barrow, Yarlside, Roa and Ormsgill.
A smattering of coins and artefacts of varying antiquity have been discovered by amateur treasure-hunters in the recent past.
In 2006 a solitary merchant’s weight – thought to be Viking or a little earlier – was found in farmland between Barrow and Dalton.
First published at 20:57, Thursday, 30 June 2011
Published by http://www.nwemail.co.uk
Have your say
It is a well known fact that the Norse settled in Furness, although they settled here after being driven out of Ireland, the village of Ireleth's name means Hill of the Irish i.e. Irish Norsemen.
There is no proof that the name Yarlside is Norse in origin, Yarlside was one of the four divisions of the old parish of Dalton and derived its name from the River Yarl which rises in Yarlwell, Dalton.