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The hoard that forced a rethink about Viking Yorkshire

A sword pommel from the Bedale Hoard © Adam Parker / York Museums Trust

A sword pommel from the Bedale Hoard © Adam Parker / York Museums Trust

A Viking hoard with the remains of an Anglo Saxon’s plundered sword have forced a rethink about Viking Yorkshire

Archaeologists have revealed hacked-off silver ingots engraved with the symbol of the cross and a large sword pommel featuring animal and gold leaf decorations by “highly skilled” Anglo-Saxon craftsmen

One of the most important hoards found in the north of England, the Bedale Hoard has been bought by the Yorkshire Museum after a £50,000 fundraising campaign and the York Archaeological trust were brought in to examine the Viking treasures. Conservators found wood and textile samples and tiny cuts used to test the purity of its silver during the late 9th or early 10th centuries.

“The hoard is really making us think about this part of Yorkshire in the Viking Period in a different way,” says Natalie McCaul, the Curator of Archaeology at York Museums Trust.

“It contains objects from across the Viking world including rare and unique pieces such as the huge silver neck ring – one of the largest examples of its type ever found.

“It is only now that the hoard has been conserved that we can see its real beauty and the incredible craftsmanship involved in creating some of the artefacts.

“The Anglo-Saxon sword pommel is probably the stand-out piece. This is something that has been plundered by the Vikings, and the conservation has meant we can now see the fantastic and delicate gold leaf patterns much more clearly and in some cases for the first time.”

The Bedale Hoard © Adam Parker / York Museums Trust

The Bedale Hoard © Adam Parker / York Museums Trust

Experts admit a large element of mystery surrounds the Christian symbols on several of the 29 ingots, and they believe the textile fragments could suggest the sword was wrapped in a cloth within a hoard buried in a wooden box.

Inlaid with plaques of gold foil bearing the animal decorations consistent with 9th century English style, the pommel includes four oval ring mounts from the grip of a sword which could also have made use of six tiny, dome-headed gold rivets.

The hoard, which is on public display in the Yorkshire Museum’s Medieval Gallery, was found by metal detectorists in May 2012.

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Yorkshire Museum and Gardens

York, North Yorkshire

The Yorkshire Museum sits in the heart of York Museum Gardens, in the centre of York. The museum was opened in 1830 by the Yorkshire Philosophical Society and was one of the first purpose-built museums in the country. Housing some of the finest collections of archaeological and geological finds in…

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