Watlington Hoard

Last updated
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.

Contents

Details

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.

Related Research Articles

Alfred Jewel quartz and gold Anglo-Saxon artefact

The Alfred Jewel is a piece of Anglo-Saxon goldsmithing work made of enamel and quartz enclosed in gold. It was discovered in 1693, in North Petherton, Somerset, England and is now one of the most popular exhibits at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. It has been dated to the late 9th century, in the reign of Alfred the Great and is inscribed "AELFRED MEC HEHT GEWYRCAN", meaning "Alfred ordered me made". The jewel was once attached to a rod, probably of wood, at its base. After decades of scholarly discussion, it is now "generally accepted" that the jewel's function was to be the handle for a pointer stick for following words when reading a book. It is an exceptional and unusual example of Anglo-Saxon jewellery.

Cuerdale Hoard Viking silver hoard

The Cuerdale Hoard is a hoard of more than 8,600 items, including silver coins, English and Carolingian jewellery, hacksilver and ingots. It was discovered on 15 May 1840 on the southern bank of a bend of the River Ribble, in an area called Cuerdale near Preston, Lancashire, England. The Cuerdale Hoard is one of the largest Viking silver hoards ever found, four times larger than its nearest rival in Britain or Ireland, according to Richard Hall. In weight and number of pieces, it is second only to the Spillings Hoard found on Gotland, Sweden.

Appleford-on-Thames village and civil parish in Vale of White Horse district, Oxfordshire, England

Appleford-on-Thames is a village and civil parish on the south bank of the River Thames about 2 miles (3 km) north of Didcot, Oxfordshire. It was part of Berkshire until the 1974 local government boundary changes. The 2011 Census recorded the parish's population as 350.

Asthall village and civil parish in West Oxfordshire, England

Asthall or Asthal is a village and civil parish on the River Windrush in Oxfordshire, about 6 miles (10 km) west of Witney. It includes the hamlets of Asthall Leigh, Field Assarts, Stonelands, Worsham and part of Fordwells. The 2011 Census recorded the parish's population as 252. Asthall village is just south of the River Windrush, which also forms the south-eastern part of its boundary. The remainder of the parish including all of its hamlets lie north of the river. A minor road through Fordwells forms most of the parish's northern boundary. Most of the remainder of the parish's boundary is formed by field boundaries.

Aston Rowant village and civil parish in South Oxfordshire district, Oxfordshire, England

Aston Rowant is a village, civil parish and former manor situated about 4 12 miles (7 km) south of Thame in South Oxfordshire, England. The parish includes the villages of Aston Rowant and Kingston Blount, and adjoins Buckinghamshire to the southeast. The 2011 Census recorded the parish's population as 793.

Hoxne Hoard Largest hoard of late Roman silver and gold discovered in Britain

The Hoxne Hoard is the largest hoard of late Roman silver and gold discovered in Britain, and the largest collection of gold and silver coins of the fourth and fifth centuries found anywhere within the Roman Empire. It was found by Eric Lawes, a metal detectorist in the village of Hoxne in Suffolk, England in 1992. The hoard consists of 14,865 Roman gold, silver, and bronze coins and approximately 200 items of silver tableware and gold jewellery. The objects are now in the British Museum in London, where the most important pieces and a selection of the rest are on permanent display. In 1993, the Treasure Valuation Committee valued the hoard at £1.75 million.

The year 2007 in archaeology

Vale of York Hoard Viking hoard

The Vale of York Hoard, also known as the Harrogate Hoard and the Vale of York Viking Hoard, is a 10th-century Viking hoard of 617 silver coins and 65 other items. It was found undisturbed in 2007 near the town of Harrogate in North Yorkshire, England. The hoard was the largest Viking one discovered in Britain since 1840, when the Cuerdale hoard was found in Lancashire, though the Anglo-Saxon Staffordshire Hoard, found in 2009, is larger.

Yorkshire Museum Archaeological and Natural Sciences Museum in York, England

The Yorkshire Museum is a museum in York, England. It was opened in 1830, and has five permanent collections, covering biology, geology, archaeology, numismatics and astronomy.

The British Museum Friends organization

The British Museum Friends (BMF) is a registered charitable organisation in the UK with close links to the British Museum, and was set up in 1968. It provides funding in the form of grants to the British Museum in order to support the educational objectives of the Museum including to allow the Museum to acquire new items and collections, and assists with financing research programmes, conservation, and new technologies throughout the Museum.

Silverdale Hoard Silver hoard

The Silverdale Hoard is a collection of over 200 pieces of silver jewellery and coins discovered near Silverdale, Lancashire, England, in September 2011. The items were deposited together in and under a lead container buried about 16 inches (41 cm) underground which was found in a field by a metal detectorist. It is believed to date to around AD 900, a time of intense conflict between the Anglo-Saxons and the Danish settlers of northern England. The hoard is one of the largest Viking hoards ever discovered in the UK. It has been purchased by Lancashire Museums Service and has been displayed at Lancaster City Museum and the Museum of Lancashire in Preston. It is particularly significant for its inclusion of a coin stamped with the name of a previously unknown Viking ruler.

The Galloway Hoard is a hoard of more than 100 gold and silver objects from the Viking age discovered in the historical county of Kirkcudbrightshire in Dumfries and Galloway in Scotland in September 2014. Found on Church of Scotland land, the hoard has been described by experts as "one of the most significant Viking hoards ever found in Scotland". It was discovered by a metal detector enthusiast who reported the find to the authorities. A county archaeologist carried out an excavation which unearthed a rich and unusually varied collection of jewellery from the Viking world, Anglo-Saxon England and elsewhere in Europe. It is thought that the hoard was buried some time in the mid-ninth or tenth century, though it is not known why it was buried. It was valued in 2017 by an advisory panel to the Queen’s and Lord Treasurer's Remembrancer (QLTR) at £2 million. Scottish law allows the finder to keep the full value of treasure without an owner. The National Museum of Scotland raised the funds to give the hoard a permanent home in Scotland.

The Lenborough Hoard is a hoard of more than 5,000 late Anglo-Saxon silver coins, dating to the eleventh century, that was found at Lenborough in Buckinghamshire, England in 2014. It is believed to be one of the largest hoards of Anglo-Saxon coins ever found in Britain.

Airdeconut was a Norse King of Northumbria. Numismatic evidence suggests he was a Christian and he probably ruled in Northern England around the year 900.

Cnut of Northumbria 10th-century Norse King of Northumbria

Cnut was a Norse King of Northumbria. Numismatic evidence suggests he ruled from around 900 until 905, succeeding Siefredus.

References

  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

Bibliography


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.