In search of the Vikings
By Paul Coslett
Exploring the Viking heritage of Merseyside and Cheshire at the Merseyside Maritime Museum.
The Viking heritage of Merseyside and Cheshire is to come under the spotlight at a free conference of experts at Merseyside Maritime Museum.
Over the years evidence has been unearthed of a considerable Viking presence in North West England, which continues to this day in the DNA of local people.
In November 2004 a large amount of silver and lead called the Huxley Hoard, was discovered during a metal detector rally close to the Cheshire village of Huxley.
The bracelets were intricately decorated
One of the detectors, Steve Reynoldson, found pieces of sheet lead a foot below the ground and on further inspection discovered several large items of silver which when fully excavated included 22 silver items next to 39 fragments of lead.
Thought to date from the tenth century, the hoard is similar to others that have been discovered in Northwest England and North Wales, it also bears similarity to finds from Norway.
A Viking presence
The experts at the museum conference include former director of the British Museum, Sir David Wilson and National Museums Liverpool?s head of field archaeology Rob Philpott, they will be discussing recent finds and the regions history during the Viking era.
There?s plenty of evidence of a Viking presence in the North West.
In 1840 a large hoard of Viking silver was found on the banks of the River Ribble at Cuerdale, Lancashire.
More recently, in February 2008, a DNA study revealed that the population in parts of North West England carries up to 50 per cent male Norse origins, which is similar to modern Orkney.
The Viking's had a strong presence
It?s thought that the Cuerdale hoard may have been buried by Norse settlers from Dublin who were expelled by the Irish in 902 AD and settled in Cheshire and Wirral, or alternatively it could have belonged to Viking raiders who raided Cheshire.
Why the owners failed to return for their buried treasure is unknown.
The Huxley hoard weighs 1.5 kg and includes a small cast ingot and 21 arm rings or bracelets. Sixteen bracelets had intricate decorations stamped on them with crosses or lattice patterns.
It is thought, because of the presence of lead fragments, that the silver could have been wrapped in a sheet of lead, or possibly buried in a lead lined wooden box, although no trace of the wood now remains.
Following its find the Huxley Hoard was examined by experts from the British Museum and then purchased jointly by Chester Grosvenor Museum, Cheshire Museums Service and National Museums Liverpool.
Currently on display at the Magical History Tour exhibition at Merseyside Maritime Museum the silver will eventually form part of a History Detectives gallery at the new Museum of Liverpool, which is due to open in 2010.