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Page last updated at 10:06 GMT, Thursday, 27 August 2009 11:06 UK
Viking hoard reveals its story

The Vale of York hoard

By David Sillito
BBC Arts Correspondent

It is a window on the birth of England and a reminder of the often overlooked first King of all of Britain, Athelstan.

It was buried as Viking nobility fled from Yorkshire at a key moment in British history and more than a thousand years later it was discovered by two men with metal detectors in a field near Harrogate in North Yorkshire.

It is the greatest Viking hoard of treasure to be discovered in Britain for more than 150 years.

And now it's been cleaned and prepared for display in York and London - it has revealed its stories.

There are coins from Afghanistan and northern Russia. Britain in the tenth century was part of a globalised trading system.

An ornamental bowl form the Vale of York hoard
The hoard lay buried for more than 1000 years

There is one coin featuring Athelstan, the King of England. Experts believe this means it was from 927-8.

This was the time when Viking Northumbria was conquered and the birth of what was to be the Kingdom of England.

Athelstan is also described as King of Britain. He was, it appears, claiming overlordship over Scotland and Wales as well as England. A matter that other Kings may well have disagreed with.

A coin featuring St Peter but also the hammer of Thor. It's evidence that worshippers of Thor were being encouraged to Christianise their allegiance by switching the Scandanavian god for Peter.

A selection of the coins and jewellery will be going on display in York and the British Museum in December.

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