Huge Hoard Of Viking-Age Silver Unearthed On The Isle Of Man

By David Prudames | 06 August 2003
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Shows a photograph of a collection of silver coins, a silver armlet and a long cylindrical silver ingot.

Photo: a broken armlet and selection of coins and ingots from the hoard. Courtesy of Manx National Heritage.

A hoard of Viking-age silver, considered by experts to be of international importance has been unearthed on the Isle of Man by a metal detectorist.

Uncovered in March this year by detectorist Andy Whewell, the collection is comprised of 464 coins, 25 ingots and a broken armlet, all dating back to around 1020 AD.

The hoard has now been declared Treasure by the island's High Bailiff and will go on display at the Manx Museum once further research and conservation work has been carried out.

Curator of Archaeology at Manx National Heritage, Allison Fox explained just how significant the find has proved to be.

Shows a photograph of two women examining some silver coins.

Photo: Kristin Bornholdt (left), Numismatist from Cambridge University studies the hoard with Allison Fox, Curator of Archaeology at Manx National Heritage. Courtesy of Manx National Heritage.

"Although the island is well-known for producing hoards of Viking silver, we have never had a find of this size and quality before," said Allison.

"The condition, range of styles of coinage, purity of silver in the ingots and the design of the broken armlet are remarkable. It is rare that such important material is discovered in such good condition and with fragments of the original container."

While at present little is known about who the hoard belonged to, the find certainly tells us something about the times during which it was buried.

"Nearly a 1000 years ago, someone carefully buried their savings in the ground for safety, fully intending to return to reclaim them. For whatever reason, they didn't make it back and this silver has lain undisturbed in the ground ever since."

The hoard shows that, located in the middle of the Irish Sea, the Isle of Man was something of a melting pot of different cultures. Among the finds are both Hiberno-Norse and Anglo-Saxon coins, well-used the silver pennies prove that at least two forms of currency were in use at the time.

Shows a photograph of a collection of silver ingots and coins.

Photo: the 1000-year-old hoard was buried in a lead container, fragments of which survived and will join the collection on display. Courtesy of Manx National Heritage.

As for the silver ingots, they too were of significant value and would have been used for trade, bits being cut off as and when payment was required.

One of the reasons why the find is so revealing is because it was reported to Manx National Heritage immediately and archaeologists were able to excavate the site on which it was discovered.

Under the terms of legislation regarding Treasure, the High Bailiff's decision means that the hoard is offered to Manx National Heritage.

The organisation will now establish the collection's value and its finder will receive a reward.

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