Early medieval coins unearthed in Eden Valley declared as treasure

The coins have been officially declared as treasure. Credit: British Museum

A hoard of 1,000-year-old early Medieval silver coins unearthed in the Eden Valley have formally been declared treasure.

An inquest at Cockermouth Coroners’ Court on Thursday heard that a man found the four complete silver hammered pennies and two cut half pennies while using a metal detector in January 2022.

Details of such finds are provided to the British Museum. Curators then make requests and recommendations to coroners if they believe items meet the legal criteria for being declared treasure — namely if they are at least 300 years old and have a precious metal content of at least 10 per cent.

Area coroner for Cumbria, Ms Kirsty Gomersal, received a curator’s report which stated that the six early Medieval silver hammered coins dated back to the reign of King Ethelred II of England between 978 to 1016AD. Five different known mints were represented and descriptions, measurements and weights of each coin were documented.

“The British Musuem states that coins of the types were produced in large quantities during the late 10th Century at a time when Viking attacks on England were dramatically escalating; a period which culminated in the conquest of England by the Danish king,” said Ms Gomersal.

The details of the find were provided to the British Museum. Credit: British Museum

From 991 onwards, historically documented payments had been made by the English to Viking armies. Other undocumented payments and seizures had also made during this period, and significant quantities of coins of these types had been recovered from hoards in England and Scandinavia.

“The find was made in an (Eden Valley) area of known Scandinavian settlement in the vicinity of the main trans-Pennine route that connected York to the Irish Sea. It is possible, given the wider context and location of the find, that the hoard represented the loss — or burial for safe keeping — of a portion of the direct proceeds of Viking activity in England,” a curator’s report stated.

“It may however also simply reflect the volume of coinage that was produced and which entered circulation at this time.”

The inquest heard that staff at both Penrith Museum and also Carlisle’s Tullie House had expressed an interest in acquiring the coins.

Ms Gomersal concluded after considering all evidence that the Eden Valley hoard should be formally classed as treasure, and congratulated the finder on his discovery.

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