Nobody quite knows who buried it near Leominster around 1100 years ago. But, a selection of items from that Viking treasure, rediscovered in 2015, are at long last being put on display in the county in which they were found.
Every successful treasure hunter knows how good it feels to get their first glimpse of gold or silver. Often, that feeling is a hugely-overdue reward at the end of a very long wait.
The wait is almost over
For Herefordshire Hoard followers who have been looking forward to an update for the last seven years, the wait is almost over. Items from the Viking treasure have been hauled up from the British Museum to be displayed at the Hereford Museum Resource and Learning Centre (MRLC).
Visit the MRLC between 10.00-3.30pm on Saturday 28 May to be among the first people in Herefordshire to see what all the fuss is about. As well as the display of items from the hoard, visitors will discover much more about the treasure from hands-on activities and pop-up displays. Viewing is also possible at the MRLC during the same hours on:
- Monday 30 May
- Tuesday 31 May
- Wednesday 22 June
- Saturday 25 June
- Wednesday 6 July
- Saturday 9 July
While the hoard remains at MRLC, the Herefordshire Hoard Roadshow starts meandering around the county. This series of events, held between 11-3pm, features Viking re-enactors and a trove of information on the precious treasure:
- Saturday 21 May Leintwardine Community Centre
- Saturday 11 June Burgage Hall, Ledbury
- Saturday 18 June Cawley Hall, Eye, Luston
- Saturday 2 July Leominster Community Centre
- Sunday 17 July Belmont Community Centre
- Saturday 23 July The Hub @ St Peter’s (Peterchurch)
- Saturday 30 July Fownhope Memorial Hall
All the above events are free to enter and no appointment is needed. More information is available on the Herefordshire Hoard website.
Other events taking place to help bring the hoard home to Herefordshire include a talk entitled Present Day Pillaging by Herefordshire Council’s archaeological projects manager, Tim Hoverd. Tim provides insights into the discovery of the hoard, including the investigations by Herefordshire Archaeology Service and West Midlands Police. Appearing at MRLC at 10am, Thursday 9 June, Tim reveals what has happened since those who discovered the hoard were sent to prison for not declaring their find and what may happen in future.
That event is followed by a presentation by Dr Gareth Williams, curator of early medieval coins and Viking collections, British Museum. Gareth discusses the significance of the Herefordshire Hoard at the Kindle Centre in Hereford at 7pm, Wednesday 22 June. Author of several books on Anglo-Saxon and Viking topics, Gareth is currently working on one on Anglo-Saxon hoards and another on Viking warfare and military organisation. He is an advisor for the new Museum of the Viking Age due to open in Oslo in 2026.
On Thursday 21 July, Peter Reavill, Herefordshire Archaeology, delivers Treasure Tales and Hidden Hoards at Herefordshire Archive and Records Centre. In this illustrated lecture, Peter, one of the principle archaeological investigators on the Herefordshire Hoard, explores the crime and explains why treasure is so important to our county’s story. Refreshments are available at each talk, which last about an hour before the speakers take questions from the audience.
Councillor Gemma Davies, cabinet member for commissioning, procurement and assets, says:
“I’m so excited that items from the hoard are actually here where they belong in Herefordshire. I’m sure other residents feel the same way. The Viking treasure is made up of some exquisite pieces whose craftsmanship defies belief when you consider when they were made and the very basic tools they were made with. But it’s not simply their beauty or their rarity that makes the hoard so special. It’s also the fact that some of the coins actually change our understanding of history. All that richness is packed into tiny precious items we now have the privilege to see on display in Herefordshire. I can’t wait to go along.”
* The Herefordshire Hoard is one of the most significant early medieval treasures ever discovered in Britain. Its discovery was revealed through reports from the Crown Court in Worcester. In November 2019, four men were found guilty of concealing, stealing and selling the ‘Viking’ treasure they had recovered illicitly from a field in Eye, near Leominster in Herefordshire four years earlier. The men were sentenced to a combined jail term of more than 23 years, ranging from 12 months to 10 years.
The small portion of the hoard recovered so far includes three gold ornaments, a silver ingot, and 29 silver coins. But photos recovered by police during their investigations suggest that, when complete, the hoard had contained several more ingots and around 300 coins. It is possible that the collection also contained other objects, but the quality of the recovered photos makes this uncertain. The combination of intact ornaments, bullion, and a mixture of Anglo-Saxon, Frankish and Islamic coins suggests this was a Viking hoard deposited around 878.
At the time the hoard was buried in the late ninth century, Britain was divided into different kingdoms, including Wessex and Mercia. Those kingdoms were individually fighting for survival against the Viking invaders. Coins from Mercia and Wessex, which form part of the Herefordshire Hoard, share some similar designs. This suggests an alliance between Wessex and Mercia that was most likely formed to strengthen their battle against the Vikings.