A unique collection of coins and jewellery is set to join the displays at JORVIK Viking Centre in February, when the Herefordshire Hoard takes pride of place in one of the central display cabinets within the world-famous museum.
The Herefordshire Hoard has been loaned to York Archaeology by its owners, Herefordshire Council. The Herefordshire Hoard currently comprises 29 silver coins, one silver ingot, a beast’s head gold bracelet, a rock crystal pendant and a gold ring. It would have been buried around AD 878, and represents the first evidence of the Great Viking Army in Herefordshire.
“We will never know why these precious objects were buried – perhaps as a way of keeping them ‘safe’ as the owner went off to battle – but they reveal new information about politics in the south in the late 9th century. Some of the coins demonstrate an alliance between the kingdoms of Mercia and Wessex at a time when the unification of England was taking shape,” comments Christine McDonnell, head of collections for York Archaeology. “Our display of the Silverdale Hoard was hugely popular with visitors, and although slightly smaller, the Herefordshire Hoard has a similarly fascinating story to tell. We are incredibly grateful to be able to share this with visitors to JORVIK Viking Centre.”
The Hoard has an interesting history, with the collection now in the safe hands of the team at Herefordshire Museum Service believed to represent only around 10% of the original find. George Powell and Layton Davies uncovered the treasures, thought to have included about 300 coins, in 2015 in Eye, near Leominster, and sold them to dealers instead of reporting the find. They were jailed in 2019, with the court told most of the hoard – valued at anywhere between £3 and £12m – was still missing. Two others were also jailed for their part in concealing the find. The perpetrators were sentenced to over 23 years in prison, but the items illicitly sold have not been recovered.
Damian Etheraads, Herefordshire Council’s museum and art gallery lead said: “The Herefordshire Hoard is an amazing collections of objects which throw light on a little known but significant episode in English history. It’s fitting for the Hoard to go on display at JORVIK and we are very pleased to be able to share the story of the Hoard more widely. We are grateful to our supporters and funders the National Heritage Memorial Fund, Art Fund, Garfield Weston Foundation, the Headley Trust, Herefordshire Museum Service Support Group and individual givers who made it possible to acquire the Hoard as well as to JORVIK Viking Centre for sharing its story.”
The Herefordshire Hoard will remain on display in York until the summer. JORVIK Viking Centre is open daily (closed 24-26 December) all year round. For more information or to book tickets, please visit jorvikvikingcentre.co.uk