Rare Viking silver hoard found in Furness

A local metal detectorist in Furness, northwest England, uncovered a hoard of Viking silver this May. The hoard includes 92 silver coins, including two Arabic dirhams, several ingots and an almost complete silver bracelet. The dirhams, a silver coin circulating in 10th century, are only the fourth and fifth ever reported to have been found.

Experts believe the hoard was interred in the mid-10th century during a period when Viking invaders had established settlements in the area. Despite a panoply of local place names — including Furness itself — of Old Norse derivation, here hasn’t been a great deal of evidence for a strong Norse presence found in the region, just occasional individual artifacts. This is the largest collection of Viking material ever discovered in Furness, and from a critical transitional period between invasion and settlement.

British Museum Viking expert Dr Gareth Williams 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 is a good reminder of how much finds like this can tell us about the history of different parts of the country.”

The British Museum is studying the hoard right now. Once it’s declared treasure by a coroner’s inquest, it will be officially valued and local museums given the chance to purchase it. The Dock Museum in Barrow, the museum closest to the discovery, is hoping they will be able to buy the hoard and keep it in the area in which was found. Before it moved to the BM for the treasure investigation, the hoard was kept at the Dock Museum.