The Cuerdale Hoard

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The Cuerdale Hoard is a hoard of over 8,600 items including silver coins and bullion. Discovered on the 15th May 1840, on the bend of the River Ribble in an area known as Cuerdale on the outskirts of the City of Preston, Lancashire. The hoard is the largest Viking silver hoard ever found outside Russia, and exceeds any hoard found in Scandinavia or other western areas where the Vikings settled.

The hoard was found by a group of workmen repairing the embankment of the river. It was contained within a lead box, which shows evidence of the hoard having been parcelled into small bags or packages. After discovery, it was quickly recovered by the landowner's bailiffs, ensuring it remained together, though the workmen managed to keep a coin each. The remainder was declared a treasure trove and handed to Queen Victoria as the Duchy of Lancaster. The Duchy passed it to the British Museum, where the bulk of it remains today.

It is believed the coins were buried between 903 and 910 AD. At this time the Ribble Valley was an important Viking route between the Irish Sea and York. The presence of large numbers of newly minted Norse coins from York and large amounts of Irish Norse bullion leads experts to believe this may have been a war chest belonging to Irish Norse exiles intending to reoccupy Dublin from the Ribble Estuary, though there have naturally been many other theories regarding its ownership and purpose.

Other theories include that the silver was intended for a casting works in the vicinity. Remains of fortifications and moat suggest that a larger building once occupied the present site of Cuerdale Hall. A third theory is that the silver was buried by Sir Thomas Molyneux several hundred years after the minting of the coins. Sir Thomas raised an army of 5,000 men to escort the Duke of Ireland to Richard II. Thomas Molyneux occupied Cuerdale Hall and was Constable of Chester Castle and Sheriff. He was killed at the Battle of Radcott Bridge. The silver may have been brought from Ireland as an intended war chest to support Richard II of England.

The existence of the hoard may have been known long before its eventual rediscovery: a local Preston-Lancashire tradition said that anyone who stood on the south bank of the Ribble at Walton-le-Dale, and looked upriver to Ribchester, would be within sight of the richest treasure in England.

The presence of the Vikings can be seen today in Preston through numerous place names. The Cuerdale Hoard is an example of the rich archaeology that exists around the Preston area and includes evidence of prehistoric and significant Roman history.

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuerdale_Hoard

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