Viking age silver found by metal detectorist in Manx field

Catherine Nicoll,BBC Isle of Man

MNH A close-up of a silver ingot on floorMNH

The whole silver ingot was discovered in a field in July 2022

A Viking age silver ingot found by a metal detectorist in the south of the Isle of Man has been declared treasure at an inquest.

The 1,000-year old piece, which is 2.6in (6.7cm) long and 0.3in (0.75cm) wide, was found 7in (18cm) below the surface in July 2022.

It was found by retired civil engineer John Smart, who reported the item to Manx National Heritage (MNH).

Curator of archaeology Allison Fox said the find would help increase the understanding of the Viking age in the island and where the activity took place.

It was significant because there had been no other similar items found in the vicinity of the find in the past.

The composition of the piece was tested at the University of Liverpool with the results showing it contained 88% silver.

The tests were carried out on the piece, which dates back to between 900 and 1045 AD, to prove its content because similar ingots of copper and lead had also been found in the past.

MNH A smiling man holding a silver ingot in his hand standing next to a smiling woman in a Viking gallery at a museumMNH

John Smart found the ingot while metal detecting and took it to Allison Fox at MNH

Ms Fox said silver was the most common form of currency during the Viking period and in its day the ingot would have been worth the equivalent of about £200 to its owner.

While silver coins were also used, ingots could be used as the “credit cards” of their day as they were able to be used in trading all over the Viking world, she said.

However, she said it was not known whether it had been lost or hidden for safekeeping.

The piece will be put on display at the Manx Museum from Thursday.

Under Manx laws, finds of archaeological interest must be reported to MNH and items of precious metal that are more than 300 years old are the subject of a legal ruling by a coroner.

Items declared treasure belong to the Crown and are held in trust by MNH, with the finder rewarded.

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