Wednesday 12 March 2014

The Silverdale Hoard, Museum of Lancashire, Preston

From Dr. Fiona Edmonds, Senior Lecturer in Celtic History

Readers of the ASNC blog will no doubt be interested in the Silverdale Hoard, which was discovered by a metal-detectorist in 2011. The appropriately named Silverdale is located on the edge of Morecambe Bay, on the Irish Sea coast. The hoard has been acquired by Lancashire County Council’s Museum service, much to the delight of Lancastrians (myself included). The hoard was on display at Lancaster City Museum last year, and can now be visited as part of an exhibition at the Museum of Lancashire in Preston: ‘The Silverdale Hoard: the Story so Far’. This temporary exhibition will last until December 2014, displaying the hoard in the state in which it was found.

The hoard was found in a lead container and comprises over 200 pieces. The best-publicised element is a coin featuring the name ‘Airdeconut’, which may refer to a hitherto unattested Scandinavian ruler in Northumbria. This is one of 27 coins including Alfredian, Frankish and Arabic types. There are also 14 ingots, 10 complete arm-rings (including types linked to Ireland), 6 bossed brooch fragments and hacksilver. The current estimate for the date of the hoard’s deposition is c. 900–10 (see Gareth Williams, ‘A New Coin Type’, reference below).

Photograph courtesy of Lancashire County
Council Museum Service.

 The hoard awaits full publication, and so discussion of its significance is at a preliminary stage. However, it raises interesting questions for the study of north-west England in the Viking Age. What is the relationship to other hoards found in the area (for example, the Cuerdale Hoard, which was deposited near Preston in the first decade of the tenth century?) Is there a connection with the commencement of Scandinavian settlement in the area at the start of the early tenth century? To what extent was the region linked with the Irish Sea world on the one hand, and York on the other?

The Silverdale Hoard is one of several exciting new Viking-Age finds from north-west England. These include the Huxley Hoard, found in 2004 and now on display at the Museum of Liverpool; the Cumwhitton cemetery (Cumbria), also found in 2004 and shortly to be published; and the Furness hoard, found in 2011 and now on display at the Dock Museum, Barrow-in-Furness. Now is a good time to plan a trip to north-west England and see the recently discovered hoards!

* Information about the Museum of Lancashire can be found here
* For further reading about the Silverdale Hoard, see Dot Boughton, Gareth Williams and Barry Ager, ‘Buried Wealth of the Norse of the North West’, Current Archaeology, 264 (March 2012), 26–31; Gareth Williams, ‘A New Coin Type (and a New King?) from Viking Northumbria’, The Yorkshire Numismatist, 4 (2012), 261–75.
* For my thoughts about the Viking-Age history of the north-west, see ‘History and Names’, in James Graham-Campbell and Robert Philpott (eds.), The Huxley Viking Hoard: Scandinavian Settlement in the North West (Liverpool: National Museums Liverpool, 2009), pp. 3–12
* For Morecambe Bay specifically, see my ‘The Furness Peninsula and the Irish Sea Region: Cultural Interaction from the Seventh Century to the Twelfth’, in Clare Downham (ed.), Jocelin of Furness: Essays from the 2011 Conference (Donington: Shaun Tyas, 2013), pp. 17-44.

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