Silverdale Hoard: £110,000 Viking ‘treasure’ to go on display at Lancaster museum

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The Silverdale Hoard - a major collection of Viking silver which was buried for more than 1,000 years - is to go on display at Lancaster City Museum.

It is made up of more than 200 items believed to date from around 900 AD, including beautifully-crafted jewellery and coins from Britain, Europe and Arabia.

Also included are 141 fragments of arm-rings and ingots, which had been chopped into smaller pieces, known as hacksilver, which the Vikings used as money.

The hoard had been buried in a lead pouch under a field in Silverdale where it was discovered by a local metal detectorist in September 2011.

Last December, it was declared treasure and later valued at nearly £110,000.

Lancashire County Council’s museum service, supported by Lancaster City Council, made successful bids for funding to buy the hoard and make sure it stays in the county.

The hoard has been acquired by the museum service thanks to grants of £45,000 from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, £33,000 from the Art Fund and £18,000 from the Victoria and Albert Purchase Grant Fund.

County councillor Marcus Johnstone, cabinet member for environment, planning and cultural services, said: “This superb exhibition in Lancaster will be the first chance for everyone to see one of the largest collections of Viking silver ever found in Britain.

“I should like to thank our museum staff, together with our colleagues at the city council, for their hard work and their commitment to keeping this historically important collection here in Lancashire.

“We are especially grateful to the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the Art Fund and the Victoria and Albert Purchase Grant Fund without whose generous support, none of this would have been possible. Our exhibition has also received support from the Art Fund and The Headley Trust.”

Councillor Ron Sands, Lancaster City Council’s cabinet member with responsibility for leisure, culture and tourism, added: “The Silverdale Hoard is a unique reminder of our rich heritage. It gives us a fascinating glimpse into the history of the district.

“I’m delighted that this exhibition is taking place at Lancaster City Museum. I would urge everyone to take up this fabulous opportunity to visit this wonderful local find while it is available to view right here on our doorstep.”

The exhibition, called ‘The Silverdale Hoard – the story so far’, will run from October 25 until December 21, showcasing the find in the condition in which it was discovered.

It also includes a programme of family-friendly events starting on Saturday 26 October.

Dame Jenny Abramsky, National Heritage Memorial Fund chairman, said: “This is wonderful news for Lancashire and the nation.

“The Silverdale Hoard offers a unique window into the lives and craftsmanship of the Vikings who inhabited Lancashire over 1,000 years ago.

“The National Heritage Memorial Fund exists to make sure historic gems such as this are not lost from this country and so our trustees felt it was vital it should be saved for future generations to learn from and enjoy.”

Stephen Deuchar, director of the Art Fund, said: “As one of the largest Viking hoards to be discovered in Britain, this collection comprising 200 items of silver coins, jewellery and ingots is not only important for Lancashire, but for the nation as a whole.

“Now part of the museum’s collection, we are pleased to have supported the acquisition and an imaginative engagement programme that will enable the local community as well as the region’s many visitors to celebrate and learn about Viking culture in the north west.”

Julia Brettell, Victoria and Albert Purchase Grant Fund grants officer, added: “The V&A Purchase Grant Fund is pleased to support the acquisition of the Silverdale Hoard, as it will enable Lancashire County Council’s museum service to tell the story of the people of north Lancashire and Cumbria during the pivotal Viking period.”

After previewing in Lancaster, the hoard will move to its permanent home at the Museum of Lancashire in Preston.

It will then be on show from February 15 to December 7, 2014, before further research and conservation work takes place.

Lancaster City Museum is managed by Lancashire County Council on behalf of the city council.

Opening times are 10am to 5pm, Monday to Saturday. Admission is free.