A campaign has been launched to keep a Viking treasure hoard which could re-write the history of Furness on display in the area.
The Furness Hoard, which was discovered by a novice metal detectorist near Stainton Quarry, Dalton-in-Furness, went on display yesterday at the Dock Museum, Barrow, for a month. It will give visitors the first chance to see it and help with fundraising.
The treasure features 92 silver coins and artefacts, including ingots, and one near-complete silver bracelet, dating from the Dark Ages. An independent panel has valued it at £49,500.
The Furness Maritime Trust pledged £19,000 to the museum, which means a further £30,500 still needs to be raised.
The find is being billed as ‘the missing link’ by experts who say it is the long-awaited material culture of the 9th and 10th century Vikings who would have settled and operated in the peninsula.
It is the first time a significant amount of valuable Viking booty has been recovered from Furness soil and it links the area with the Norse mariners.
Museum curator Sabine Skae described the hoard as ‘very exciting for Furness’.
Among the coins is a pair of Arabic dirhams – silver currency which also circulated in 10th century Europe.
Ms Skae, who has been in charge of collections and exhibitions at the Dock Museum for almost eight years, said: “It has national significance because hoards from this period are rare and also nothing has been found in such quantity in this area.
“In an age with very few written records hoards provide crucial clues on the trading economy and politics.”
The metal detectorist, who is not being named, found the haul on land owned by Tarmac. They will share the proceeds.
Estates manager Jonathan Garbutt said: “When we heard that this had been discovered on our land, it was quite a surprise. As a company we spend quite a lot of money on archaeology so we have found things on this site, such as the remains of old walls, but nothing of monetary value.”
Experts believe the silver was put into the ground some time around 955 AD when the Viking invaders established footholds in the north of England.
Dr Gareth Williams, Viking expert at the British Museum, said: “By the mid-950s, most of England had become integrated into a single kingdom, with a regulated coinage, but this part of the north-west was not integrated into the English kingdom until much later, and the hoard reflects that.
“It’s a good reminder of how much finds like this can tell us about the history of different parts of the country.”