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Three men jailed after stealing a Viking hoard worth £3 million

The hoard contained a mixture of intact ornaments, bullion and coins, which is typical of Viking hoards of the 9th and 10th centuries Credit: West Merica Police

Two detectorists and a coin seller have been jailed for stealing a Viking hoard worth £3 million.

George Powell, 38, and Layton Davies, 51, and Simon Wicks, 57 discovered the treasure at a site in Eye, Herefordshire in 2015.

The men stole, concealed and then broke up the coin hoard, offering items for sale to private dealers and auctioneers.

The detectorists failed to declare the collection of buried hoard, which dated back 1,100-years-ago to the birth of a united English kingdom.

They were caught after deleted photos showed a much larger hoard on Davies's phone.

The recovery of various coins, including five concealed in a magnifying glass case and volunteered to police by the forth member of the group Simon Wells, 60.

Detectorists George Powell (left) and Layton Davies (right) were jailed for stealing for Viking hoard. Credit: West Mercia Police

Powell, of Newport, Wales was described as having the 'leading' role after appearing alongside his co-defendants at Worcester Crown Court today (November 22).

He was jailed for 10 years while caretaker Davies, of Pontypridd, Wales received eight-and-a-half years.

Wicks, of Halisham, East Sussex, was jailed for five years.

All three men were convicted of conspiracy to conceal criminal property, conspiracy to convert criminal property following a six-week trial.

Coin seller Simon Wicks was jailed for 5 years for his involvement in the Viking hoard theft. Credit: West Mercia Police

Among the priceless hoard was a ninth century gold ring, a dragon's head bracelet, a silver ingot, a crystal rock pendant dating to the fifth century and up to 300 coins, some dating to the reign of King Alfred.

Only 31 of the coins have been recovered, although recovered mobile phone photographs on Davies's phone showed the larger hoard, still intact, in a freshly dug hole.

90% of the coins or thereabouts remain hidden to this day.

It is thought the trove was buried by someone within the Great Viking Army in either 878 or 879.

Five of the coins are examples of the exceptionally rare Two Emperors penny, valued at up to £50,000 apiece, and so-called as they depict King Alfred and a lesser known monarch, Ceolwulf II, who reigned in the old kingdom of Mercia, sitting together.

The two Emperors type coins were amongst the treasure. Credit: West Mercia Police

Sentencing Judge Nicholas Cartwright told the men they had 'cheated' not only the landowner but the public of 'exceptionally rare and significant' coins.

Wells, of Rumney, Cardiff was found guilty of conspiracy to conceal criminal property and will be sentenced on 23 December.

“I am pleased to see such a substantial sentence for the individuals who stole and concealed parts of the treasure hoard found in Eye, Herefordshire.

"I do believe there are coins outstanding and I would ask anyone within the community of metal detectorists or coin dealers as well as the wider community that may have seen or heard of the where-abouts of coins from this hoard to contact me at West Mercia Police by calling 101.”

– West Merica Police, Detective Constable Nigel Cleeton:

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