The Cuerdale Hoard

The Cuerdale Hoard was discovered by workmen on the banks of the river Ribble near Preston, Lancashire on May 15th, 1840.  Consisting of around a 1,000 ozs of silver ingots and over 7,000 coins, it is still today the largest hoard of Viking silver ever found in the British Isles, and the largest in Europe outside of Russia. The majority of the hoard was seized by the landowner's bailiff; the laborers were allowed to retain one coin each for themselves. It was declared Treasure Trove at an inquest on 15 August 1840, the property of Queen Victoria in right of her Duchy of Lancaster; the Duchy then passed it to the British Museum for examination prior to its distribution to over 170 recipients. The lion's share, however, was allocated to the British Museum. The coinage of the Viking kingdom of York during this period is almost unknown outside of this find.

Buried in a lead chest around A.D. 905 - 910, the coins reflected the trading and cultural contacts of the Vikings who once owned the treasure. In addition to c.5000 newly minted coins of the Viking Kingdoms of York and East Anglia, there were c.1000 Anglo-Saxon issues, c.1000 Carolingian issues and a handful of Kufic, early Scandinavian and 1 Byzantine one.

The reasons for it's burial and moreover it's non-recovery will never be exactly known. However, its find spot may provide the best clue. Cuerdale is located at the start of an overland route from York to the Irish Sea and from there on to Dublin. We know from historical sources that the Vikings were expelled from Dublin A.D. 902 and it has been speculated that was deposited during their flight and subsequently not recovered. Whatever the exact reason there is a strong Irish dimension to the hoard from both its location and from some of the silver jewelry in the hoard.

Lyon and Stewart have suggested that the enigmatic legend 'CVNNETTI" maybe a Latinized rendering of Hunedeus, an historically attested Viking leader, who held power at York with the otherwise unknown Cnut (BAR 180, p.348).