The most important Viking treasure find in Britain for 150 years has been unearthed by a father and son while metal detecting in Yorkshire. David and Andrew Whelan uncovered the hoard, which dates back to the 10th Century, in Harrogate in January. The pair kept their find intact and it was transferred to the British Museum to be examined by experts, who said the discovery was "phenomenal".
It was declared as a treasure at a court hearing in Harrogate on Thursday. North Yorkshire coroner Geoff Fell said: "Treasure cases are always interesting, but this is one of the most exciting cases that I have ever had to rule on. I'm delighted that such an important Viking hoard has been discovered in North Yorkshire. We are extremely proud of our Viking heritage in this area."
Metal detectorists David and Andrew Whelan, who uncovered the treasures, said the find was a "thing of dreams". The pair, from Leeds, said the hoard was worth about £750,000 as a conservative estimate. They told the BBC News website: "We've been metal detecting for about five years; we do it on Saturdays as a hobby. We ended up in this particular field, we got a really strong signal from the detector... Eventually we found this cup containing the coins and told the antiquity authority. We were astonished when we finally discovered what it contained."
The ancient objects come from as far afield as Afghanistan in the East and Ireland in the West, as well as Russia, Scandinavia and continental Europe. The hoard contains 617 silver coins and 65 other objects, including a gold arm-ring and a gilt silver vessel. Dr Jonathan Williams, keeper of prehistory in Europe at the British Museum, said: "[The cup] is beautifully decorated and was made in France or Germany at around AD900. It is fantastically rare - there are only a handful of others known around the world. It will be stunning when it is fully conserved."
Most of the smaller objects were extremely well preserved as they had been hidden inside the vessel, which was protected by a lead container. The British Museum said the coins included several new or rare types, which provide valuable new information about the history of England in the early 10th Century, as well as Yorkshire's wider cultural contacts in the period. It was probably buried for safety by a wealthy Viking leader during the unrest following the conquest of the Viking kingdom of Northumbria in AD927.
A spokeswoman for the museum said: "The size and quality of the hoard is remarkable, making it the most important find of its type in Britain for over 150 years." The find will now be valued for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport by the Independent Treasure Valuation Committee. Dr Williams said that the British Museum and the York Museums Trust would be looking to raise the funds to purchase the collection so it could eventually go on public display. The proceeds would be split between the finders and landowners.
Fantastic - I've always fancied getting a metal detector, but the odds of finding something great must be longer than winning the lottery...
Wow, mind blowing that there were also 'new & rare' coins (new meaning never before discovered or seen...).
As I have mentioned before in other threads, we get a shit load of metal detector users on the beaches here...
Some just scavenge the beaches in the evenings looking for money & jewelry left / lost by the tourists. I have seen many a ring, watch, chain being recovered by them...
On the other hand, we have the people who come out in certain areas after storms here, these folk are after pirate treasure & quite often get a decent find.
(Our area is steeped in pirate lore & there were a few big wrecks in the area that provide all manner of goodies after storms & local dredging).
Posted: Thu Jul 19, 2007 2:53 pm Post subject: Re: Biggest Viking treasure haul for 150 years
the odds of finding something great must be longer than winning the lottery...
I agree .. They say this is the most important find of its type in Britain for over 150 years, whilst there's a lottery winner every week in the UK.
With the lottery you are effectively giving 50% of the winnings to the government, whilst with a treasure, 50% goes to the land-owner (though unsure if this is a rule, or just the agreement made in this case before the land-owner allowed them to hunt on his land). If they didn't have permission, the land-owner could have demanded it all by saying they stole it.
Largest ever hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold found in Staffordshire First pieces of gold were found in a farm field by an amateur metal detector who lives alone on disability benefit
24 September 2009
A harvest of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver so beautiful it brought tears to the eyes of one expert, has poured out of a Staffordshire field - the largest hoard of gold from the period ever found. The weapons and helmet decorations, coins and Christian crosses amount to more than 1500 pieces, with hundreds still embedded in blocks of soil. It adds up to 5kg of gold – three times the amount found in the famous Sutton Hoo ship burial in 1939 – and 2.5kg of silver, and may be the swag from a spectacularly successful raiding party of warlike Mercians, some time around AD700.
The first scraps of gold were found in July in a farm field by Terry Herbert, an amateur metal detector who lives alone in a council flat on disability benefit, who had never before found anything more valuable than a nice rare piece of Roman horse harness. The last pieces were removed from the earth by a small army of archaeologists a fortnight ago. Herbert could be sharing a reward of at least £1m, possibly many times that, with the landowner, as local museums campaign to raise funds to keep the treasure in the county where it was found.
Leslie Webster, former keeper of the department of prehistory at the British Museum, who led the team of experts and has spent months poring over metalwork, described the hoard as "absolutely the equivalent of finding a new Lindisfarne Gospels or Book of Kells". "This is going to alter our perceptions of Anglo-Saxon England as radically, if not more so, as the Sutton Hoo discoveries," she predicted.
The gold includes spectacular gem studded pieces decorated with tiny interlaced beasts, which were originally the ornamentation for Anglo-Saxon swords of princely quality: the experts would judge one a spectacular discovery, but the field has yielded 84 pommel caps and 71 hilt collars, a find without precedent.
The hoard has just officially been declared treasure by a coroner's inquest, allowing the find which has occupied every waking hour of a small army of experts to be made public at Birmingham City Museum, where all the pieces have been brought for safe keeping and study. The find site is not being revealed, in case the ground still holds more surprises, even though archaeologists have now pored over every inch of it without finding any trace of a grave, a building or a hiding place.
The field is now under grass, but had been ploughed deeper than usual last year by the farmer, which the experts assume brought the pieces closer to the surface. Herbert reported it as he has many previous small discoveries to Duncan Slarke, the local officer for the portable antiquities scheme, which encourages metal detectorists to report all their archaeological finds. Slarke recalled: "Nothing could have prepared me for that. I saw boxes full of gold, items exhibiting the very finest Anglo-Saxon workmanship. It was breathtaking."
As archaeologists poured into the field, along with experts including a crack metal detecting scheme from the Home Office who normally work on crime scene forensics, Herbert brought one friend sworn to secrecy to watch, but otherwise managed not to breath a word to anyone – even the fellow members of his metal detecting society when they boasted of their own latest finds.
None of the experts, including a flying squad from the British Museum shuttling between London and Birmingham, has seen anything like it in their lives: not just the quantity, but the dazzling quality of the pieces have left them groping for superlatives.
They are still arguing about the date some of the pieces were made, the date they went into the ground, and the significance of most seemingly wrenched off objects they originally decorated. There are three Christian crosses, but they were folded up as casually as shirt collars. A strip of gold with a biblical inscription was also folded in half: it reads, in occasionally misspelled Latin, "Rise up O Lord, and may thy enemies be dispersed and those who hate the be driven from thy face."
Kevin Leahy, an expert on Anglo-Saxon metal who originally trained as a foundry engineer, and who comes from Burton-on-Trent, has been cataloguing the find and describes the craftsmanship as "consummate", but the make up of the hoard as unbalanced.
"There is absolutely nothing feminine. There are no dress fittings, brooches or pendants. These are the gold objects most commonly found from the Anglo-Saxon ere. The vast majority of items in the hoard are martial - war gear, especially sword fittings."
If the date of between AD650 and AD750 is correct, it is too early to blame the Vikings, and just too early for the most famous local leader, Offa of Offa's Dyke fame.
Leahy said he was not surprised at the find being in Staffordshire, the heartland of the "militarily aggressive and expansionist" 7th century kings of Mercia including Penda, Wulfhere and Æthelred. "This material could have been collected by any of these during their wars with Northumbria and East Anglia, or by someone whose name is lost to history. Here we are seeing history confirmed before our eyes."
Deb Klemperer, head of local history collections at the Potteries museum, and an expert on Saxon Staffordshire pottery, said: "My first view of the hoard brought tears to my eyes – the Dark Ages in Staffordshire have never looked so bright nor so beautiful."
The most important pieces will be on display at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery from tomorrow until Tuesday October 13, and will then go to the British Museum for valuation – a process which will involve another marathon collaboration between experts. Their best guess today is "millions".
Leahy, who still has hundreds of items to add to his catalogue, has in the past excavated several Anglo-Saxon sites including a large cemetery of clay pots full of cremated bone. He said: "After all those urns I think I deserve the Staffordshire find."
Mysteries of Mercia
It is no longer politically correct to refer to the period as the dark ages – but Anglo-Saxon England remains a shadowy place, with contradictory and confusing sources and archaeology. Yet out of it came much that is familiar in modern Britain, including its laws, its parish boundaries, a language that came to dominate the world, as well as metalwork and manuscript illumination of dazzling intricacy and beauty.
Mercia was one of Britain's largest and most aggressive kingdoms, stretching from the Humber to London, its kings and chieftains mounting short but ferocious wars against all their neighbours, and against one another: primogeniture had to wait for the Normans, so it was rare for a king to reign unchallenged and die in his bed.
They were nominally Christian by the date of the Staffordshire hoard, but sources including the Venerable Bede suggest that their faith was based more on opportune alliances than fervour.
In south Staffordshire, at the heart of the kingdom, Tamworth was becoming the administrative capital and Lichfield the religious centre as the cult grew around the shrine of Saint Chad. There were few other towns, and most villages were still small settlements of a few dozen thatched buildings. Travel, if essential, would have been easier by boat: archaeology suggests that much of the Roman road network was decaying, and in many places scrub and forest was taking back land which had been farmed for centuries.
The metalwork in the hoards came from a world very remote from the lives of most people, in mud and wattle huts under thatched roofs, living by farming, hunting, fishing, almost self-sufficient with their own weavers, potters and leather workers, needing to produce only enough surplus to pay dues to the land owner. A failing harvest would have been a far greater disaster than a battle lost or the death of one king and the rise of another.
The world of their nobles is vividly evoked in poems like Beowulf, probably transcribed long after they became familiar as fireside recitations, of summer warfare and winter feasting in the beer hall, where generous gift giving was as important as wealth.
Rich and poor lived in the incomprehensible shadow of a vanished civilisation, the broken cement and stone teeth of Roman ruins studding the countryside, often regarded with dread and explained as the work of giants or sorcerers. One poem in Old English evokes the eerie ruins of a bathing place, possibly Bath itself: "death took all the brave men away, their places of war became deserted places, the city decayed."
Roman bronze helmet found in a field sells for £2.3 MILLION... eight times its estimated value
8th October 2010
A rare Roman bronze helmet found in a field by a metal detecting enthusiast, sold for an astonishing £2.3 million at auction today. The immaculately preserved 2,000-year-old artefact, one of only three ever found in Britain, was discovered in a field by an unemployed graduate in his early 20s. It prompted a five-minute frenzy of bidding at Christie’s in London before it was bought anonymously on the telephone for eight times its pre-sale estimate.
The proceeds from the Crosby Garrett Helmet, named after the hamlet in Cumbria where it was found in May, will now be split between the finder and the landowner, making both millionaires. They have both chosen to remain anonymous.
The helmet, complete with an ornate face mask surrounded by a ring of tightly curled hair, was not intended to be worn in combat but for cavalry sports parades which often accompanied religious festivals. Wearing full armour and colourful streamers, Roman soldiers would take part in organised games to impress visiting officials.
Christie’s described the find, from the late 1st century AD, as ‘an extraordinary example of Roman metalwork at its zenith’. Six bidders fought for the helmet pushing the price steeply from its original £200,000-£300,000 estimate up to £2,281,250.
It is the find of a lifetime for the young man, who with the landowners’ permission had searched the same field for seven years with his father as a hobby, but had only ever found a few coins and scrap metal. Only two other helmets complete with face-masks have been discovered in Britain. They are the Ribchester Helmet, found in 1796 and now in the British Museum, and the Newstead Helmet, found some time around 1905 and now at the Museum of Antiquities in Edinburgh.
A campaign has been gathering in Cumbria to pay for the helmet, and the county’s Tullie House museum managed to stay in the bidding up to £1.7m, a staggering sum for a small outfit - most of it raised through frantic fundraising in the last month. Its curator Andrew Mackay said: ‘This is a real blow. People will be terribly disappointed – we had thousands of pounds coming in every day, and children literally emptying their piggy banks. ‘We are now very, very anxious to talk to the buyer to see where we go next.’
The fact it could have been sold abroad may lead to calls for reform of the Treasure Act. As the helmet is bronze, it is not classified as treasure - which must be 50 per cent silver or gold - and could have been automatically offered to the British museum at the market price, compensating the finder and landowner.
Christie’s London head of antiquities, Georgiana Aitken, said: ‘This helmet is the discovery of a lifetime for a metal detectorist. When it was initially brought to Christie’s and I examined it at first-hand, I saw this extraordinary face from the past staring back at me and I could scarcely believe my eyes. This is a hugely important discovery and the universal appeal of the helmet saw it draw interest from a diverse group of bidders at today’s auction.’
'Lost Michelangelo' Found At Back Of Sofa
Sky News Online
October 12, 2010
A painting a family had stored behind their sofa for over 30 years could be a lost Michelangelo worth £190m. To retired pilot Martin Kober, the family heirloom picturing the Virgin Mary holding the body of Jesus was simply referred to as "The Mike".
The work, passed down from his great-grandfather, had hung in the living room of the family's home near Niagara Falls, upper New York, for decades. It was even knocked off the wall by a stray tennis ball before being wrapped up, undamaged, and placed behind the sofa in the mid-1970s.
Twenty-five years passed before Mr Kober realised he was sitting in front of a gold mine after investigating the painting which had finally been passed down to him. An expert on the Italian master was consulted, whose deep-set scepticism vanished after x-ray tests were performed.
Antonio Forcellino, Michelangelo biographer and art historian, is convinced the lost work - The Lost Pieta - is genuine. "I had assumed it was going to be a copy," he told The Sunday Times. In reality, this painting was even more beautiful than the versions hanging in Rome and Florence. The truth was this painting was much better than the ones they had. I had visions of telling them that there was this crazy guy in America telling everyone he had a Michelangelo at home."
The 25in by 19in work is believed to have been painted in 1545, and - once confirmed as genuine - will hang as one of the few surviving oil paintings the Renaissance great created on wood panel. Mr Kober said research suggests it passed from Italy to Croatia, then on to Germany, before coming into his ancestors' possession on America's East Coast.
Forcellino is in no doubt the work was made by the hand of the Italian master. "The X-rays that have been done are key," he told the Sunday Times. "They reveal his changes of mind; he moved the face of Christ, covered up grass to the left of the Virgin and left an area next to her right leg unfinished. It couldn't possibly be a copy by another artist."
Now safely stored in a bank vault, the painting will no longer be relegated behind Mr Kober's furniture. Once its place in art history is verified, it will tour the world's galleries with no indication the family will cash in on the ultimate prize found down the back of the sofa.
Celtic tomb hailed as great archaeological find
28 Dec 2010
In a discovery described as a “milestone of archaeology,” scientists have found a 2,600-year-old aristocratic burial site at the Celtic hill fort at Heuneburg in Baden-Württemberg. The noblewoman's tomb, dating from early Celtic times, measures four metres by five metres, and is exceptionally well-preserved. It contained gold and amber jewellery that makes possible for the first time the precise dating of an early Celtic grave.
Using heavy cranes, the excavation team lifted the entire burial chamber out of the ground as a single block of earth and placed it on a special truck so that it could be carried off for further analysis. The dig leader and state archaeological chief Dirk Krausse labelled the find a “milestone of archaeology.”
Judging by the ornamentation in the chamber, the archaeologists believe the tomb was built for a woman from the nobility of the Heuneburg fort, though this couldn’t be said with certainty until further investigations could be made under laboratory conditions. This will be done by the State Office for the Preservation of Monuments in Stuttgart. Initial results are expected to be announced in June 2011.
The Heuneburg hill fort site is considered one of the most significant archaeological sites in central Europe and possibly the oldest settlement north of the Alps. It has been the focus of intense interest because it reflects socio-political developments in early Celtic Europe when, after about 700 BC, wealth, population and political power began to be concentrated in small areas.
It was the area of a large settlement from about 700 BC and became one of the key centres of power and trade in southern Germany.
Lost Da Vinci Mural 'Found On Hidden Wall'
March 13, 2012
A lost mural by Leonardo da Vinci is believed to have been discovered on a hidden wall behind a 16th century fresco in Florence. The discovery comes after traces were collected using tiny probes inserted into a wall covering the original surface in a lavish hall in the Palazzo Vecchio, one of the city's most famous buildings.
Researchers found an air gap of around 3cm (1.2in) in some places between the old wall and the new wall built in front of it on which artist and art historian Giorgio Vasari had painted The Battle of Marciano. The hidden mural contained a black pigment used in Da Vinci's famous Mona Lisa painting. The probes also discovered red lacquer and brown pigment on the hidden wall which, researchers said, indicated the wall had a fresco painted on it.
The research is the result of a decades-long quest using cutting-edge technology by University of California San Diego professor Maurizio Seracini, who was featured in Dan Brown's best-selling novel The Da Vinci Code. The professor was inspired by the word's "Cerca, trova" ("seek and you shall find"), which were painted on a tiny flag in Vasari's painting depicting a different battle.
Those who think Da Vinci's work might be hidden behind the later wall painting contend it is unlikely that Vasari, famed for his biographies of Renaissance artists, would have destroyed any masterpiece by Leonardo. The mural, begun in 1505, was painted to commemorate the 15th-century victory by Florence over Milan at the medieval Tuscan town of the same name. Da Vinci left it unfinished a year later when the colours began to run and he left the city.
Despite the problems with the colours, the fresco was praised by the Renaissance genius' contemporaries for what Vasari called its "graceful beauty" and Flemish Baroque painter Peter Paul Rubens drew a famous copy of it.
But not everyone is happy with the discovery. The research in Florence has been controversial as six small holes were bored into Vasari's work to reach the hidden wall. International art scholars and the Italian heritage group Italia Nostra last year signed a petition complaining that the search was nothing more than a "Dan-Brown style" publicity stunt which risked damaging Vasari's fresco.
Art historian Tomaso Montanari, who teaches at the University of Naples, said in his blog that the search for the Battle of Anghiari was "tragi-comic" adding: "It will not be found but what counts is the mediatic effect."
Two Van Goghs Found On The Same Canvas
March 20, 2012
A painting hanging in a Dutch museum has rocketed in value after art historians determined that not only was it a Van Gogh - it was two Van Goghs. The painting, entitled "Still life with meadow flowers and roses", conceals a second painting beneath it that was also the work of the master and is only visible by X-ray. The second image shows two wrestlers clad only in loin cloths.
Vincent Van Gogh wrote to his brother Theo, a gallery owner, about the wrestlers painting, which he did while at school in Antwerp. He later went over it with the image of meadow flowers and roses - adding an uncharacteristic number of flowers, presumably to cover over the wrestlers entirely.
The painting belongs to the Kroeller Mueller Museum in Otterlo.
Pot of gold worth £300,000 found in fortress where it was buried by doomed knights
11 July 2012
A pot of gold from the Crusades worth up to $500,000 has been found buried in an ancient Roman fortress in Palestine. The coins were buried by Christian soldiers of the order of the Knights Hospitalier as the Crusaders faced an unstoppable attack by a huge Muslim army in April 1265.
The coins - worth a fortune even in 1265 when they were thought to have been buried - were deliberately hidden inside a broken jug to prevent them being discovered. The fortress was destroyed by forces of Mamluks who overwhelmed the Crusaders - and the treasure only survived due to the quick thinking of one of the defenders.
'It was in a small juglet, and it was partly broken,' Oren Tal of the University of Tel Aviv told Fox News. 'The idea was to put something broken in the ground and fill it with sand, in order to hide the gold coins within. If by chance somebody were to find the juglet, he won’t excavate it, he won’t look inside it to find the gold coins. Once we started to sift it, the gold came out.'
The Roman fortress in Apollonia National Park has yielded a huge number of archaeological treasures - but scientists excavating layer from the thirteenth century were stunned to unearth a literal pot of gold. The clay container had more than 100 gold dinals from the time when the Crusaders occupied the fortress, originally built by the Romans.
The coins discovered in the fort date to the Fatimid empire in northern Africa, and are 200-300 years older than the ruined fortress they found in. The coins were minted in Tripoli and Alexandria - and are extremely valuable.
'Fatimid coins are very difficult to study,' says Oren Tal, 'The letters are sometimes very difficult to decipher.'
Builders dig up 100,000 D-Marks
28 Sep 2012
Bavarian labourers stumbled upon an unusual booty on Thursday when they unearthed a bag they feared could contain a dead pet – and found 100,000 Deutsche Marks instead. The old money can still be swapped for current currency.
The men came across a strange-looking sack on Thursday while were digging into foundations on a building site. “At first I thought that it could have been the last resting place for a cat and I was creeped out about opening it,” said the man operating the digger. His colleagues were less hesitant though and ripped into the sack. It was packed full of old D-Mark notes, all wrapped in plastic, the Main Post newspaper said.
And although some had turned to mulch, the notes which can be identified can still be converted, despite the fact that the euro was introduced to the country in 2002. It is thought the old cash could be worth more than €50,000.
Soggy paperwork in the bag could see the money being reunited with its rightful owner, as it may contain bank details the paper said. Whether they still lived in the Main-Spessart area where the discovery was made, remained to be seen. For now, the money has been claimed by the land owner but it is not yet clear who is entitled to the cash. If authorities manage to track down the money's original owner the labourers could receive a finder's fee.
The men forgot to tell the police at first though, because “we were way too excited to think about something like that.”
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