Silverdale Hoard

The Silverdale Hoard

The early medieval period is often called the ‘Dark Ages’ and indeed we possess few texts that shed light on this era in north-west England. Even so, Castle Hill would have seen dramatic changes as the Roman Empire collapsed and new kingdoms arose.

As we heard in the video in step 1.3, the fate of Lancaster’s fort in the post-Roman period is unclear. The area eventually became incorporated into the Northumbrian kingdom, which fragmented in the Viking Age. Castle Hill’s prominent site – overlooking the River Lune and Morecambe Bay – would have offered a clear view of the movements of bands that we know as ‘Vikings’.

In this section you will learn more about a Viking silver hoard found on Morecambe Bay, not far from Lancaster.

First, read the text of an article that I originally wrote for a blog in 2014. It is reproduced here with modifications. Then reflect on the questions. You could share your thoughts by posting a comment.

‘The Silverdale Hoard was discovered by a metal-detectorist in 2011. The appropriately named Silverdale is located on the edge of Morecambe Bay, on the coastline of the Irish Sea. The hoard was found in a lead container and comprises over 200 pieces. The best-publicised element is a coin featuring the name ‘Airdeconut’, which may refer to a hitherto unattested Scandinavian ruler in Northumbria. This is one of 27 coins including Alfredian, Frankish and Arabic types. There are also 14 ingots, 10 complete arm-rings (including types linked to Ireland), 6 bossed brooch fragments and hacksilver. The current estimate for the date of the hoard’s deposition is c. 900–10, according to Gareth Williams of the British Museum.

The hoard awaits full publication, and so discussion of its significance is at a preliminary stage. However, it raises interesting questions for the study of north-west England in the Viking Age. What is the relationship to other hoards found in the area (for example, the Cuerdale Hoard, which was deposited near Preston in the first decade of the tenth century?)

  • Is there a connection with the commencement of Scandinavian settlement in the area at the start of the early tenth century?

  • To what extent was the region linked with the Irish Sea world on the one hand, and York on the other?

The Silverdale Hoard is one of several exciting new Viking-Age finds from north-west England. These include the Huxley Hoard, found in 2004 and now on display at the Museum of Liverpool; the Cumwhitton cemetery (Cumbria), also found in 2004 and now at Tullie House in Carlisle; and the Furness hoard, found in 2011 and now on display at the Dock Museum, Barrow-in-Furness. Now is a good time to plan a trip to north-west England and see the recently discovered Viking-Age finds!’

This is the end of the article. Now consider the questions (please note that we cannot answer these questions definitively; historians and archaeologists must develop the most persuasive answer based on the available evidence).

  • Why might the hoard have been deposited?

  • Why did the owners of the hoard not come back to collect it?

  • How would you account for the far-flung origins of some of the material in the hoard?

  • Why had some of the metalwork been broken up or flattened out?

In order to develop your interpretations, you will find it helpful to compare the Silverdale Hoard with others of the same era. These include the vast Cuerdale Hoard (found in 1840 by the River Ribble near Preston, Lancashire) and the Huxley Hoard (found in 2004 by the River Gowy in Cheshire).

You can read more about those hoards here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ancient/vikings/cuerdale_01.shtml

http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/mol/collections/archaeology/huxley-hoard/

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This article is from the free online course:

Lancaster Castle and Northern English History: The View from the Stronghold

Lancaster University