Watlington Hoard

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Watlington Hoard
Watlington Hoard (FindID 751244).jpg
Material Silver, Gold
Created9th century
Period/culture Viking
Discovered Watlington, Oxfordshire, by James Mather, 2015
Present location British Museum

The Watlington Hoard is a collection of Viking silver, buried in the 870s and rediscovered in Watlington, Oxfordshire, England in 2015.

Watlington, Oxfordshire market town and civil parish in South Oxfordshire district, Oxfordshire, England

Watlington is a market town and civil parish about 7 miles (11 km) south of Thame in Oxfordshire, near the county's eastern edge and less than 2 miles (3 km) from its border with Buckinghamshire. The parish includes the hamlets of Christmas Common, Greenfield and Howe Hill, all of which are in the Chiltern Hills. The 2011 Census recorded the parish's population as 2,727.

Oxfordshire County of England

Oxfordshire is a county in South East England. The ceremonial county borders Warwickshire to the north-west, Northamptonshire to the north-east, Buckinghamshire to the east, Berkshire to the south, Wiltshire to the south-west and Gloucestershire to the west.



The hoard is made up of silver – 186 coins (some fragmentary), 15 ingots and 7 pieces of jewellery, including arm-rings – and a scrap of gold. [1] It was buried after Alfred the Great defeated the Great Heathen Army led by Guthrum in 878, forcing the Danes to retreat north. [2] The hoard was rediscovered by James Mather, an amateur metal-detectorist, in 2015 and subsequently excavated. [3]

Hoard Collection of valuable objects or artifacts

A hoard or "wealth deposit" is an archaeological term for a collection of valuable objects or artifacts, sometimes purposely buried in the ground, in which case it is sometimes also known as a cache. This would usually be with the intention of later recovery by the hoarder; hoarders sometimes died or were unable to return for other reasons before retrieving the hoard, and these surviving hoards might then be uncovered much later by metal detector hobbyists, members of the public, and archaeologists.

Ingot material, usually metal, that is cast into a shape suitable for further processing

An ingot is a piece of relatively pure material, usually metal, that is cast into a shape suitable for further processing. In steelmaking, it is the first step among semi-finished casting products. Ingots usually require a second procedure of shaping, such as cold/hot working, cutting, or milling to produce a useful final product. Non-metallic and semiconductor materials prepared in bulk form may also be referred to as ingots, particularly when cast by mold based methods. Precious metal ingots can be used as currency, or as a currency reserve, as with gold bars.

Alfred the Great 9th-century King of Wessex

Alfred the Great was King of Wessex from 871 to c. 886 and King of the Anglo-Saxons from c. 886 to 899. He was the youngest son of King Æthelwulf of Wessex. His father died when he was young and three of Alfred's brothers reigned in turn. Alfred took the throne after the death of his brother Æthelred and spent several years dealing with Viking invasions. He won a decisive victory in the Battle of Edington in 878 and made an agreement with the Vikings, creating what was known as Danelaw in the North of England. Alfred also oversaw the conversion of Viking leader Guthrum to Christianity. He successfully defended his kingdom against the Viking attempt at conquest, and he became the dominant ruler in England. He was also the first King of the West Saxons to style himself King of the Anglo-Saxons. Details of his life are described in a work by 9th-century Welsh scholar and bishop Asser.

The period in which the hoard was buried saw extensive warfare between the Danish and Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, and is of considerable interest to historians. [4] The coins, which were minted by Alfred the Great and Ceolwulf II, have "the potential to provide important new information on relations between Mercia and Wessex" in the 9th century, according to Gareth Williams, a curator at the British Museum. [2] Some of the coins show the two kings sitting side by side, in a style known as the "Two Emperors", after Roman coins of the 4th century. [4] These coins would have been intended to make a statement about political cooperation between the two men. [4]

Ceolwulf II was the last king of independent Mercia. He succeeded Burgred of Mercia who was deposed by the Vikings in 874. His reign is generally dated 874 to 879 based on a Mercian regnal list which gives him a reign of five years. However, D. P. Kirby argues that he probably reigned into the early 880s. By 883, he had been replaced by Æthelred, Lord of the Mercians, who became ruler of Mercia with the support of Alfred the Great, king of Wessex.

It was announced in February 2017 that the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford had purchased the hoard for £1.35m, to keep it within the county, with funding from the National Lottery, the Art Fund and local donations. [5]

Ashmolean Museum University Museum of Art and Archaeology in Oxford, England

The Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology on Beaumont Street, Oxford, England, is the world's first university museum. Its first building was erected in 1678–83 to house the cabinet of curiosities that Elias Ashmole gave to the University of Oxford in 1677.

National Lottery (United Kingdom) state-franchised national lottery in the United Kingdom

The National Lottery is the state-franchised national lottery in the United Kingdom.

Art Fund organization

Art Fund is an independent membership-based British charity, which raises funds to aid the acquisition of artworks for the nation. It gives grants and acts as a channel for many gifts and bequests, as well as lobbying on behalf of museums and galleries and their users. It relies on members' subscriptions and public donations for funds and does not receive funding from the government or the National Lottery.

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  1. "Rare Viking hoard from time of the'Last Kingdom' found in Oxfordshire", British Museum, retrieved 13 December 2015; "Watlington hoard of Viking silver casts light on Alfred the Great era", The Guardian, retrieved 13 December 2015
  2. 1 2 "Rare Viking hoard from time of the'Last Kingdom' found in Oxfordshire", British Museum, retrieved 13 December 2015; Burghart 2016 , p. 14
  3. "Watlington hoard of Viking silver casts light on Alfred the Great era", The Guardian, retrieved 13 December 2015
  4. 1 2 3 Burghart 2016 , p. 14
  5. "Watlington hoard: Relics purchased for £1.35m by Ashmolean Museum", BBC, retrieved 2 February 2017


Portable Antiquities Scheme voluntary programme run by the United Kingdom government to record small finds of archaeological interest found by members of the public

The Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) is a voluntary programme run by the United Kingdom government to record the increasing numbers of small finds of archaeological interest found by members of the public. The scheme was begun in 1997 and now covers most of England and Wales.