More Viking treasure found on the Isle of Man by amateur detectorist

Viking Treasure from the Northern Hoard discovered by Kath Giles Credit: Manx National Heritage

A treasure hoard of 87 Viking silver coins and artefacts has been found on the Isle of Man.

The coins date from around AD 990s through to the 1030s.

It's the fourth hoard found by metal detectorist Kath Giles, who only picked up the hobby three years ago.

The discovery also marks the third major treasure inquest on island in less than six months.

Kath Giles who found the treasure Credit: Manx National Heritage

The hoard was discovered in April by metal detectorist Kath Giles whilst metal detecting on private land.

She's described the find as "an amazing feeling"

What was found?

 The coins are generally silver pennies, mostly minted in England, Dublin, Germany and the Isle of Man. 

They are all around 2cm in diameter and around 1 gram in weight.  Most of the coins date from around the AD 990s through to the 1030s. 

Fox continues:

"Dr Kristin Bornholdt-Collins, an independent researcher and numismatist based in New Hampshire, USA, has confirmed that the hoard includes pennies minted in Dublin, England, modern day Germany and the Isle of Man itself. 

Like our modern day coins, many have an image of the monarch. On the Irish and Manx coins, the profile of King Sihtric Silkbeard who served as Norse King of Dublin around 989 to 1036 AD can be seen, appearing to be giving a wave from a thousand years ago! 

King Cnut, King Aethelred II of England and also a Holy Roman Emperor, Otto of Saxony can also be seen.

Some of the coins have a design called a “long cross” on the other side.  These lines were used to cut the coins when literally only a half-penny was needed. 

The cut, or hack-silver pieces found with the coins are part of a flexible system of payment, where the value depended on the weight and purity of silver.  It is expected that the coins and the hack-silver have over 90% silver content”.

The Isle of Man has a rich and tangible Viking legacy. 

There have been discoveries of other mixed hoards of Viking Age silver coins and hack silver from the Island.  All of these have been the result of deliberate deposition and many with the intention by the original owner to reclaim the hoard material at a later stage. 

Very few items of hoard material have been found associated with graves and this is the case for this latest discovery. 

King Sihtric Silkbeard who served as Norse King of Dublin around 989 to 1036, giving a wave from a thousand years ago Credit: Manx National Heritage

What do the experts say about the significance of this find?

The find represents a medium-sized, discrete hoard of personal wealth, which was probably built up over a period of a few years, perhaps representing a short-term savings account. 

Dr Bornholdt Collins:

"Like the similarly dated, but much larger, Glenfaba deposit, found in 2003, the new hoard might be compared to a wallet containing all kinds of credit cards, notes and coins, perhaps of different nationalities, such as when you prepare to travel overseas, and shows the variety of currencies available to an Irish Sea trader or inhabitant of Man in this period.

The two hoards together provide a rare chance to study the contents side by side, right down to the detail of the dies used to strike the coins. Having this much closely dated comparative material from separate finds is highly unusual and essentially “doubles” the value of each find.

In addition to the array of coins, both hoards contain a significant hack-silver or bullion portion, which would have been weighed out and possibly tested for its quality in the course of transactions.

This is generally expected in finds dating to the ninth- and tenth centuries from viking regions, but appears to be a special feature of the later Manx hoards, too.

This may be because bullion was especially convenient for international trade since it was practical for any size transaction and was decentralized, a currency without borders or political affiliation; in this sense, it was a modern-day equivalent to a cryptocurrency—we might even say it was something like the original ‘Bit-coin’!

It seems only logical, then, that it was so popular in a cosmopolitan trading hub like Man, even several decades into the 11th century, when closely regulated minted silver was well on its way to becoming the norm across Northern Europe”.

Allison Fox, MNH Curator for Archaeology and Kath Giles, pictured with the Northern Hoard Credit: Manx National Heritage

The date of deposition of the latest hoard can be dated fairly closely due to the coin content to around AD 1035. 

This is the later era of Viking Age precious metal hoard deposition, as the practice only really lasted for a further forty years or so, with the earliest hoards dating to the AD 950s. 


Decorated Silver Armlet, cut in antiquity Credit: Manx National Heritage


The hoard will go on display in the new Viking Gallery at the Manx Museum from Thursday 15 July, prior to travelling off island for review by the Treasure Valuation Committee, an independent Committee which meets at the British Museum, providing advice on antiquities.

  • Manx National Heritage have produced their own video about the find: