Rare Viking ingot found
Coin declared treasure goes on display at Bedford Museum.
An ancient solid silver ingot found in Stagsden is stealing the limelight at Bedford Museum.
The Viking coin is the first of its kind discovered in the county and dates from AD 850-1000.
It was found by treasure hunters in the north Bedfordshire village last year, but has only just been bought by the museum following lengthy examination and valuation at the British Museum in London.
Jim Inglis, keeper of archaeology at Bedford Museum, said: "This is the only one to be found in Bedfordshire, and in terms of looking for Viking material in Bedford, which used to be a Viking town, it is very, very rare.
"We do not get Viking material very often and definitely not in precious metal. It was the raw material for making Viking jewellery and they also used it as a currency."
In the early medieval period the weight of the metal was all important.
This ingot is 45mms long, weighs 20 grams, about the same as 18 pennies, and was enough to buy two cows, a significant purchase at the time.
The Vikings first came to Bedfordshire in the ninth century, and archaeologists believe this ingot may have been lost before AD 915, when the area around Bedford was recaptured by the Saxon kingdom based in Wessex.
Mr Inglis added: "This is a significant find and would have been valuable at the time. Today we are used to silver, but then it was rare and precious.
"The ingot was found last year by a member of the public with a metal detector, but it takes time under the Treasure Act to be valued."
Because the ingot is more than 300 years old, and is made from a precious metal, it qualifies as treasure.
The 1996 Treasure Act requires anyone who finds a gold or silver object of this age to report it to their local coroner and deposit it with their local museum, archaeological officer or finds liaison officer.
Treasure then goes to the British Museum for valuation. A museum is then able to buy the treasure, with the money being shared between the finder and the owner of the land where it was found.
The ingot is on show next to the precious few other Viking finds from the county, including grave goods from a burial in Harrold, a brooch from Felmersham and items from a homestead in Willington.
For more information about the ingot visit www.bedfordmuseum.org
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