Watlington 'rare' Viking hoard declared treasure

Rare Viking hoard found near Watlington Image copyright Trustees of the British Museum
Image caption The hoard includes rare coins, jewellery and silver ingots

A Viking hoard of jewellery and coins unearthed in Oxfordshire has been declared treasure by a coroner.

The hoard was buried near Watlington around the end of the 870s, in the time of the "Last Kingdom".

Under the Treasure Act 1996 finds declared treasure may be acquired by museums for public benefit.

Oxford's Ashmolean Museum hopes to acquire the items, with help from Oxfordshire Museum Service and the British Museum.

The British Museum said the partnership would "ensure the academic and scientific study of the hoard and will enable the hoard to be displayed in museums across Oxfordshire for the benefit of the widest possible public".

Image copyright Trustees of the British Museum
Image caption Conservation work included dislodging bangles from flint in the earth

The hoard consists of seven items of jewellery, 15 ingots and about 200 coins - including rarities from the reign of King Alfred "the Great" of Wessex, who reigned from 871 to 899, and King Ceolwulf II, who reigned in Mercia from 874 to 879.

During this period, King Alfred achieved a decisive victory over the Vikings at the famous Battle of Edington in 878, prompting them to move north of the Thames and travel to East Anglia through the kingdom of Mercia.

Archaeologists have described the hoard, which was discovered in October by metal detectorist James Mather, as a "nationally significant find".

The hoard was lifted in a block of soil and taken to the British Museum, where it was excavated and studied by experts from the British Museum in London and the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.

A selection of objects from the hoard are currently on display in the British Museum's Citi Money Gallery in London.

Image copyright Portable Antiquities Scheme
Image caption Metal detectorist James Mather helped to excavate his find on his 60th birthday

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