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Glittering Viking Treasure Comes to Harrogate's Mercer Art Gallery

posted 1 Sep 2011, 06:23 by Paul Brayford   [ updated 1 Feb 2016, 15:21 ]
10 September 2011 – 15 January 2012

The discovery of the Vale of York Viking Hoard is one of the most exciting archaeological stories of recent times. It was found in January 2007 by David and Andrew Whelan in a field in the Vale of York, within the Harrogate District.

As part of a creative new relationship with the British Museum and York Museums Trust, the Vale of York Viking Hoard is coming on loan to the Mercer Art Gallery, Harrogate, in the exhibition Hester Cox: Artist’s Impression, A Printmaker’s Response to the Vale of York Viking Hoard.

The bulk of the hoard was packed inside a single silver-gilt cup. The finders did not unpack the cup

and kept the find intact, which has allowed the maximum amount of information to be recovered about the story of the hoard. The coins in the hoard can be used to date its burial accurately to AD 927 or 928.

Following its discovery conservators and curators at the British Museum painstakingly excavated and researched the contents of the cup, revealing a mixture of complete and fragmentary gold and silver jewellery, coins and ingots.

The entire find was extremely well preserved and is made up of objects from as far afield as central Asia in the East and Ireland in the West, as well as Russia, Scandinavia and the Frankish Empire. It includes 617 silver coins, 65 other silver objects and a gold arm ring.

The hoard was declared Treasure under the Treasure Act 1996 and has been acquired through a unique partnership between the York Museums Trust and the British Museum. The funds were raised with the substantial and generous support of the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF), the independent charity The Art Fund and the British Museum Challenge Fund.

Nearly a quarter of the funds were raised through a public appeal with many generous donations from Yorkshire institutions and individuals, including the Friends of Harrogate District Museums and the British Museum Friends. Additional money was raised to cover conservation costs.

North Yorkshire printmaker Hester Cox was supported by Chrysalis Arts as part of the Extending Practice/Celebrating Place scheme, designed to encourage the career development of North Yorkshire's visual artists.

This enabled Hester to gain privileged access to the Hoard at the Yorkshire Museum and the British Museum. Hester has created a new set of prints inspired by the Hoard. She said, "My printmaking always involves layering, and I like the idea that my work offers a starting point for different stories. I think that the Vale of York Hoard does the same thing, with all of its layers of connections to history and mystery."

The Mercer Gallery is open Tuesday – Saturday 10am – 5pm and Sundays 2- 5pm (Closes 4pm November – March) 

Admission is FREE.