Studying the Vikings

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Each year the Huxley Hoard of Viking Silver makes a special outing from its display case to be studied by students from the University of Liverpool’s Irish Studies department. Last week a group of 17 students visited the Museum of Liverpool to hear about the hoard and the context of early medieval finds from the North West. They gloved-up to handle the objects, and discussed the finds with Rob Philpott, Head of Archaeology and myself.

The Hoard is a group of 20 silver broad band arm rings, one silver rod arm ring, and one silver ingot. They are published in detail in a monograph. The items were probably made in the first decade of the 10th century, and the arm rings were folded before being buried. Two arm bands have their ends cut off, and another has nicks in the side of it to test for the quality of the metal. This suggests, along with the folding that they were considered to be currency rather than jewellery by the time they were buried.

looking at the hoard

The hoard is of ‘Hiberno-Norse’ style – being of Norweigian Viking jewellery type, and may be associated with the recorded settlement ‘near Chester’ of a group of Vikings led by Hingamund after they were expelled from Dublin in AD 902. A high density of Old Norse derived placenames in Wirral suggests a Viking enclave in that area.

The Hoard was found near Huxley in Cheshire in 2004 by a metal-detectorist and was acquired by Museum of Liverpool in partnership with Cheshire West Museums in 2007. The Hoard has toured the region, and is on long-term display in the Timeline in the History Detectives gallery in the Museum of Liverpool. The students were very interested in the hoard, everyone wanted their own snap of it! They were keen to hear about the excavated sites where somewhat elusive remains of the early medieval in the North West have been identified, including Irby and Moreton, Wirral. There was some interesting discussion about the decorative motifs stamped into the arm bands, and the lead associated with the silver, and how it might have been used to protect the precious items.