Treasure fest

The Silverdale Hoard (copyright the Trustees of The British Museum)
The Silverdale Hoard (copyright the Trustees of The British Museum)
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One of the largest collections of Viking silver ever found in Britain goes on show at the Museum of Lancashire (MoL) in Preston tomorrow, Friday, February 14.

Known as the Silverdale Hoard, the collection is made up of more than 200 items dating from around 900 AD.

The pieces include beautifully crafted jewellery, coins, ingots and 141 silver fragments, known as hacksilver, which the Vikings used as money.

And TV archaeologist Julian Richards will give a free talk, Bringing the Past to Life, at the Mitchell and Kenyon Lecture Theatre at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) at 11.30am.

Julian said: “This highly significant find brings another little piece of the historical jigsaw together to help us gain more of an understanding of our past.

“On a personal level, I have family connections in the area where it was found, so it seems particularly fitting to be here to see this beautiful Viking silver on public display.”

The Hoard had been buried in a lead pouch under a field near Silverdale, a coastal village in north Lancashire.

It had lain there for more than 1,000 years before being discovered by a metal detectorist in September 2011.

The following December the Hoard was declared Treasure in line with the Treasure Act 1996, and was later valued at nearly £110,000.

It showcases the collection in the condition it was discovered, without any cleaning or conservation work.

County Coun Marcus Johnstone, cabinet member for cultural services, said: “This superb exhibition in Preston is a wonderful opportunity for people to come along and enjoy a fascinating piece of Lancashire’s history.

“The acquisition of the Silverdale Hoard by our museums service has been a major achievement and it’s great to know this important collection will now stay in the region where it was discovered.”

A full programme of Viking-related events for people of all ages will run throughout the life of the exhibition.

These start on Saturday 15 February from 10.30am to 5pm with family-friendly activities including how to make Viking coins.

On Sunday 16 February visitors will have the opportunity to join Sven the Viking for an afternoon exploring fearsome Viking weaponry and battle tactics. The sessions run from 12.30pm to 1.30pm and 2pm to 3.30pm.

All of ! the weekend activities are free and there is no need to book.

The exhibition will run until 7 December, and then further research and conservation work will take place.

Admission to the MoL is free.

Julian Richards is an expert on Stonehenge (the author of the English Heritage guide book) and presented seven series of the popular Meet the Ancestors and the five-part Blood of the Vikings (both for BBC 2).

He also designed the award winning game Hunt the Ancestor for the BBC History website to which he has been a regular contributor.

His new four-part new television series, Stories from the Dark Earth: Meet the Ancestors Revisited aired on BBC 4.