Saturday, July 21, 2007

10th Century Viking Hoard Discovered

K... This was an article published on BBCNews online... There's also a little video if you go to the website about how it was found and why it's dated the way it is... If they weren't oversimplifying (and I'm sorry to say, I don't think they were), this hoard is dated to the 10th century because the youngest coin was from that time, minted during the reign of Aethelstan... As has been pointed out by scholars more accredited than myself, it is unwise to date a hoard based on coinage, despite the overwhelming tendency of archaeologists and historians of Medieval Europe to do so. Coins, unlike other things, might have a precise date when they were made, but they do not decay, unlike wood, cloth, etc and so may be buried hundreds of years after their minting with little evidence that this was the case revealed by the coin itself. Now, I admit that it was probably unlikely that a hoard such as this would have been buried *hundreds* of years after the coins were made, since Vikings were likely to have buried it and the 10th century puts the horde toward the end of the Viking Age in England - therefore, decades are more likely in this case... Still, dating the hoard based on the youngest coin's age is probably not the best way to go about things... (The dating of the horde is discussed in the video available at BBCNews... follow the link for the article below)

Of course, it might have been easier to avoid attempting to date by coinage entirely if upon realizing what they had found the metal-detector "hobbyists" had left it where they found it and called the archaeologists in immediately instead of digging it up, willy-nilly, all by their amature selves without taking stratigraphy into account or anything back in January (and we're just finding out about this now?!?!)... Sometimes, stratigraphy doesn't work, I know, because the ground was disturbed by ploughs or other things like that over the years, but considering that the horde seems to be complete, undisturbed and exactly as it was buried, I'm going to say that that probably wasn't the case here...

Other than that, I'm very excited about this discovery and look forward to learning more about the items that were found.

Viking treasure hoard uncovered
(You can see pictures here:

The most important Viking treasure find in Britain for 150 years has been unearthed by a father and son while metal detecting in Yorkshire.
David and Andrew Whelan uncovered the hoard, which dates back to the 10th Century, in Harrogate in January.

The pair kept their find intact and it was transferred to the British Museum to be examined by experts, who said the discovery was "phenomenal".

It was declared as a treasure at a court hearing in Harrogate on Thursday.

North Yorkshire coroner Geoff Fell said: "Treasure cases are always interesting, but this is one of the most exciting cases that I have ever had to rule on.

"I'm delighted that such an important Viking hoard has been discovered in North Yorkshire. We are extremely proud of our Viking heritage in this area."

'Astonishing discovery'

Metal detectorists David and Andrew Whelan, who uncovered the treasures, said the find was a "thing of dreams".

The pair, from Leeds, said the hoard was worth about £750,000 as a conservative estimate.

They told the BBC News website: "We've been metal detecting for about five years; we do it on Saturdays as a hobby.

"We ended up in this particular field, we got a really strong signal from the detector... Eventually we found this cup containing the coins and told the antiquity authority.

"We were astonished when we finally discovered what it contained."

The ancient objects come from as far afield as Afghanistan in the East and Ireland in the West, as well as what is now Russia, Scandinavia and continental Europe.

The hoard contains 617 silver coins and 65 other objects, including a gold arm-ring and a gilt silver vessel.

Dr Jonathan Williams, keeper of prehistory in Europe at the British Museum, said: "[The cup] is beautifully decorated and was made in France or Germany at around AD900.

"It is fantastically rare - there are only a handful of others known around the world. It will be stunning when it is fully conserved."

Turbulent times

Most of the smaller objects were extremely well preserved as they had been hidden inside the vessel, which was protected by a lead container.

The British Museum said the coins included several new or rare types, which provide valuable new information about the history of England in the early 10th Century, as well as Yorkshire's wider cultural contacts in the period.

It was probably buried for safety by a wealthy Viking leader during the unrest following the conquest of the Viking kingdom of Northumbria in AD927.

A spokeswoman for the museum said: "The size and quality of the hoard is remarkable, making it the most important find of its type in Britain for over 150 years."

The find will now be valued for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport by the Independent Treasure Valuation Committee.

Dr Williams said that the British Museum and the York Museums Trust would be looking to raise the funds to purchase the collection so it could eventually go on public display.

The proceeds would be split between the finders and landowners.

Story from BBC NEWS.
Published: 2007/07/19 11:54:47 GMT

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