The finest haul of Viking sliver discovered since 1840, dug up in 2007, is returning to the city of Harrogate, Yorkshire, UK, in which it was discovered.

The collection will be displayed at the city's Yorkshire Museum, according to the BBC.

The magnificence of the unique Viking pieces delighted conservators at the British Museum - coming out shining when the soil and corrosion were removed.

Also impressive is the exactness with which the historic hoard can be dated.

This is thanks to one of the 617 silver coins contained in the hoard, from as far afield as the Middle East and Central Asia, which has given a clue to experts.

It is a coin of Athelstan, the grandson of Alfred the Great, who in 927 AD added Northumbria, including York, to his realms of Wessex and Mercia.

He ousted its Viking rulers, and became, in the view of many historians, the first King of all England.

The coin describes Athelstan as REX TO[tius] BRI[tannia]E - King of all Britain. It is a stunning numismatic find.

"He minted that after a council of northern Kings that he held in 927," Andrew Morrison, curator of archaeology at the York Museums Trust, told the BBC.

"And the fact that there is only one such coin clinches the date as soon after that."

"There's only one - it's fresh - so the likelihood is that it was put in the ground when that coin was first issued," he said.

"We can certainly say it's an Anglo-Scandinavian hoard because of the contents," insisted Mr Morrison. The coins include dirhams from Muslim states as far away as central Asia and Afghanistan.

"What they're showing you is trading links. That tends to be very much more the Viking side of life than the Anglo-Saxon side of life."

The presence of "hack silver" - items such as jewellery cut into pieces for their silver value - is also "what you expect from an Anglo-Scandinavian economy," he adds.

The hoard will be on show in York from September 17 until November 1.

It will return to the British Museum while the Yorkshire Museum closes for refurbishment until August 2010. It will then return to York for "a period of time" - by which time the whole hoard, including all 617 coins, should be ready to go on display.


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