Treasure of the Viking hoard at Museum of Lancashire
As a child, TV archaeologist Julian Richards spent a lot of time in Lancashire, so when he was invited to open a huge exhibition at a museum in Preston he snapped up the chance to come back to the county.
Julian, 62, is an experienced archaeologist, presenter on television and radio, writer and educator and was at the Museum of Lancashire in Preston to introduce the Silverdale Hoard.
After a 40-plus year career in archaeology he admits he finds it just as fascinating today as ever before.
“My mother came from Carnforth, that’s where my grandmother lives, that’s where I spent a lot of time as a child – that’s where the connection comes in,” he says.
Julian, who now lives in Dorset, is an expert on Stonehenge and well known for developing and presenting seven series of the popular Meet the Ancestors and the five-part Blood of the Vikings for BBC 2.
The Silverdale Hoard is one of the largest collections of Viking silver ever found in Britain.
“It’s an amazing hoard of silver,” said Julian.
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.
These are known as hacksilver, which the Vikings used as money.
The Hoard had been buried in a lead pouch under a field near Silverdale, a coastal village in north Lancashire.
It had lain undisturbed for more than 1,000 years before being discovered by a local metal detectorist in September 2011.
That December the Hoard was declared Treasure in line with the Treasure Act 1996, and later valued at nearly £110,000.
The exhibition at the museum has been created with support from the Art Fund and the Headley Trust.
It showcases the remarkable collection in the condition it was first discovered, without any cleaning or conservation work.
Julian, who also designed the award-winning game Hunt the Ancestor for the BBC History website, said the story behind the hoard is a great example of what somebody can do with a metal detector.
He added: “It’s a good example of that working.
“The analysis will go on for a long time.
“Because we have got it all together and can see it, lots more, I am sure, will come out of it.”
He continued: “It’s very nice that the museum can have this stuff on display. It is just at the stage of cleaning up.
“I think it is nice that people can see it at this stage and see it when it’s cleaned up and looks different.”
As part of the opening event, Julian hosted a talk at the Mitchell and Kenyon Lecture Theatre.
“It was great,” he said.
“It was very well attended. I was talking there about the idea of bringing the past to life.
“When you go to a museum you see lots of objects, but what I find fascinating is the people.
“It was people who made these objects.
“My fascination is finding out as much as I can about those people, how they lived.
“The clues come from archeology. It is fascinating.”
Among many radio shows Julian also presented six series of Mapping the Town on Radio 4.
His new four-part new television series, Stories from the Dark Earth: Meet the Ancestors Revisited recently aired (several times in 2013/14) on BBC 4.
The exhibition will run until December 7, and then further research and conservation work will take place.