Vale of York Viking Hoard

The Hoard (image copyright Trustees of the British Museum)

927AD - 928AD

The most fabulous Viking treasure discovered in the UK in 150 years.

The most spectacular single object in the hoard is a gilt silver cup or bowl, made in mainland Europe around the middle of the ninth century.  The cup is decorated with running animals; two lions and four beasts of prey each looking rather startled. 

It was apparently intended for use in church services, and was probably either looted from a monastery by Vikings or given to them in tribute.  Most of the smaller objects were hidden inside this vessel, which was itself protected by some form of lead container.  As a result, the hoard is extremely well-preserved.

Other star objects include a rare gold arm-ring and 617 coins, including several new or rare types.  The evidence of the coins allows us to date the hoard very closely to the period 927-928. 

Remember that the Vikings conquered Northumbria and took York as its capital in AD 869.  The area remained under Viking control until it was conquered by Athelstan in 927.  Athelstan destroyed York’s fortifications and distributed the wealth of the city amongst his followers.  He demanded tributes in silver from the other northern leaders.  The hoard was probably buried for safety during this unrest.

The hoard shows the range of cultural contacts in Viking Yorkshire, with objects coming from as far apart as Afghanistan in the East and Ireland in the West, as well as Russia, Scandinavia and continental Europe.  There are coins relating to Islam and to the pre-Christian religion of the Vikings, as well as to Christianity.

The hoard was discovered in North Yorkshire in January 2007 by two metal detectorists, who thankfully kept the find intact and promptly reported it.  It was jointly purchased for more than £1m by the British Museum and York Museums Trust in 2009. 

The hoard features in the BBC's 'A HISTORY OF THE WORLD IN 100 OBJECTS'.  

You can listen to Neil MacGregor's broadcast on the hoard here.

*NOTE* since 1 August 2010 the Hoard is back on display at the Yorkshire Museum, York