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Hoard of Viking Age Silver declared Treasure Trove 7 August 2003

A hoard of Viking-Age silver of international importance which was found in the Isle of Man in March this year was today declared Treasure Trove by the High Bailiff, Mr Michael Moyle.

The collection of 464 silver pennies, 25 silver ingots and a broken silver armlet dating to the 1020's AD was uncovered in the west of the Island by a local metal detectorist, Andy Whewell, who then very promptly reported the discovery to Manx National Heritage.

Allison Fox, Curator of Archaeology for Manx National Heritage said;

It is rare that such important material is discovered in such good condition and with fragments of the original container. Nearly a thousand years ago, someone carefully buried their savings in the ground for safety, fully intending to return to reclaim them. For whatever reason, they didn't make it back and this silver has lain undisturbed in the ground ever since.

The condition, range of styles of coinage, purity of silver in the ingots and the design of the broken armlet are remarkable. Although the Island is well-known for producing hoards of Viking silver, we have never had a find of this size and quality before. The hoard has even more importance because we had the opportunity to excavate the find site archaeologically.

A dual economy was operating on the Island during the 11th century AD. The silver ingots were being used as bullion - parts would be cut off as and when payment was required. But the coins were being used too - there are bends and marks that show that they had been in circulation and they would have mostly been taken as payment at their face value. One of the many other interesting facts about this hoard is that it shows, as today with English and Manx coinage, that at least 2 different currencies were being used on the Island at the time as both Hiberno-Norse and Anglo-Saxon coins are present. This emphasises the importance the Island had at the time economically and commercially in the middle of the Irish Sea - an ideal hub for business, even a thousand years ago.

We are grateful to all who have been involved with the discovery and investigation of this find for their prompt and professional approach. In terms of quantity, quality and potential for providing information on our Viking heritage, in all senses, this find really is a treasure trove.

Under the terms of the Treasure Trove legislation, the decision means that the collection is offered to Manx National Heritage, which has been holding the hoard in safekeeping since it was handed in by its finder, Andy Whewell. MNH will now establish the value of the hoard and Mr Whewell will be fully rewarded for properly declaring the items for consideration as Treasure Trove. If finds are not promptly reported to MNH, the police could debar the finder from any reward and prosecution could follow.

Further research and conservation work will be needed on the silver and it is planned that once this work is complete, the hoard will be placed on public display at the Manx Museum.

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