Two men deny charges over £1m Viking hoard of coins and silver seized in raids

Hoard contained Viking coins of Alfred the Great of Wessex

Daniel Keane
Tuesday 05 October 2021 16:19
<p>Both men appeared at Durham Crown Court to plead not guilty to all the charges against them </p>

Both men appeared at Durham Crown Court to plead not guilty to all the charges against them

Two men have denied charges relating to a Viking hoard of coins and silver worth nearly £1 million which was seized during two raids.

A large haul of coins and a silver ingot, considered to be of significant historical interest, were seized from properties in County Durham and Lancashire in 2019.

Roger Pilling, 73, of Loveclough, Lancashire, and Craig Best, 44, from Bishop Auckland, County Durham, on Tuesday denied conspiring to convert criminal property between September 2018 and May 2019. They also both denied charges of possessing criminal property.

Both men will stand trial at Durham Crown Court on 20 June next year.

The hoard contained coins of Alfred the Great, who was King of Wessex from 871 until 899, and his less well-known contemporary Ceolwulf II of Mercia. It is considered important because it fills a gap in the understanding of history at this time.

Until now, accounts suggested Ceolwulf II, the last king of independent Mercia, was a puppet of the Vikings and a minor nobleman rather than a proper king.

But the coins tell a very different historical story and show two rulers standing side by side as allies. It appears to contradict the Anglo Saxon Chronicle’s account of Ceolwulf II as an “unwise King’s thane” who had sworn allegiance to the Viking invaders.

King Alfred inflicted a major defeat on the Vikings in 878AD, and experts believe the coins belong to an undeclared hoard consistent with the location of the Viking army at that time.

Additional reporting by the Press Association.

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