Friday, 17 May 2013

Will Lancaster host the Silverdale Hoard?

Photo: Prioryman

Lancaster City Council’s Cabinet will consider the options available to secure an important collection of Viking treasure for Lancashire when it meets on 28th May.

Known as the Silverdale Hoard, the collection of coins and jewellery was found near to Silverdale in September 2011 by a metal detector enthusiast.

It was subsequently declared ‘treasure’, which means it can only be purchased by an accredited museum.

While both Lancaster City Council and Lancashire County Council meet this criteria, the county council has a considerable level of experience and expertise and currently runs Lancaster’s museums. The City Museum has previously expressed an interest in acquiring the Hoard if funds can be raised.

Cabinet will be recommended to request that the county council purchases the hoard and secures it for the people of Lancashire.

Councillor Eileen Blamire, leader of Lancaster City Council, said: “The discovery of the Silverdale Hoard was very exciting and a reminder to us all of just how rich a heritage we enjoy in the Lancaster district.

“Both the city and county councils are keen for the hoard to remain in Lancashire to provide local people with the chance to see first hand this historically significant collection.”

Other options available for Cabinet would be for the city council to purchase the hoard, or for a joint purchase with each council funding parts of the costs.

However, given the costs associated with purchasing the hoard, which would also include conservation and display, a purchase by the city council alone is unaffordable in the long term.

The Silverdale Hoard is a collection of over 200 pieces of silver jewellery and coins discovered near Silverdale. The items were deposited together in a lead casket buried underground which was found in a field by Darren Webster, a local metal detectorist. It is believed to date to around AD 900, a time of intense conflict between the Anglo-Saxons and the Danish settlers of northern England.

Lancaster was almost certainly caught up in the conflict: Skerton takes its name from the Old Norse sker, Skerton meaning the Tun by the Reefs (i.e. sand banks in the River Lune which ran through the original Township); and St. Peter's Church in Heysham contains many Viking remains, and the church itself contains a Viking hogback stone.

The hoard is one of the largest Viking hoards ever discovered in the UK and has been displayed at the British Museum. It is particularly significant for its inclusion of a coin stamped with the name of a previously unknown Viking ruler.

One side of the coin has the words DNS (Dominus) REX, arranged in the form of a cross, reflecting the fact that many Vikings had converted to Christianity within a generation of settling in Britain. The other side has the enigmatic inscription. AIRDECONUT, which appears to be an attempt to represent the Scandinavian name Harthacnut. The design of the coin relates to known coins of the kings Siefredus and Cnut, who ruled the Viking kingdom of Northumbria around AD 900, but Harthacnut is otherwise unrecorded.

Photographs of the Silverdale Hoard

More about the history of Skerton

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