Lancashire pensioner denies charges over £1m Viking hoard of coins and silver

Two men have denied charges relating to a historically-important Viking hoard of coins and silver worth almost £1 million.

Tuesday, 5th October 2021, 2:10 pm

Coins and silver ingot with an estimated value of almost £1m were recovered from two properties in Lancashire and County Durham in 2019.

Roger Pilling, 73, of Loveclough, Lancashire and Craig Best, 44, of Bishop Auckland, denied conspiring to convert criminal property between September 2018 and May 2019.

They will stand trial at Durham Crown Court on 20 June.

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Police previously said the recovered coins were similar to these four from the British Museum. (Credit: British Museum)

Mr Pilling also denied two charges of possessing criminal property, Anglo-Saxon coins and a silver ingot.

Mr Best also denied a charge of possessing criminal property, namely Anglo-Saxon coins.

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Durham Police said previously that officers seized a large number of coins and a silver ingot in two raids.

The hoard contained coins of Alfred the Great of Wessex and his less well-known contemporary Ceolwulf II of Mercia.

It is considered important because it fills a gap in the understanding of history at this time.

Until now, accounts suggested Ceolwulf of Mercia was a puppet of the Vikings and a minor nobleman rather than a proper king.

But the coins tell a very different historical story and show two rulers standing side by side as allies.

King Alfred inflicted a major defeat on the Vikings in 878 and experts from the British Museum believe the coins belong to a hoard consistent with the location of the Viking army at that time.

When the coins were recovered in 2019, Dr Gareth Williams, curator of early medieval coins and Viking collections at the British Museum, described the collection as a "nationally important hoard" which could "add significantly" to the understanding of the political history of England.

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