1. The delighted staff of the Ashmolean Museum celebrate the saving of the hoard.

Hoard saved

The Ashmolean Museum has raised the £1.35million required to purchase the hoard of King Alfred the Great discovered in Watlington, Oxfordshire, in 2015. More than 700 members of the public contributed to the appeal, which was generously supported by a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant of £1.05million and a further £150,000 from Art Fund.


2. Silver ingots, bracelets and coins.

The Watlington Hoard was discovered on private land by metal-detectorist James Mather on 7 October 2015. On the verge of giving up after a frustrating day of finding nothing more than ring-pulls and shotgun cartridges, Mather chanced upon an object he recognised to be a Viking-age ingot.


3. A selection of gold coins showing the different types within the hoard.

On finding a further cache of silver pennies close by he realised he had discovered a hoard. Made up of about 20 coins (some fragmentary), seven items of jewellery and 15 ingots (bars of silver), the find is not particularly large, but it is hugely significant because it contains so many coins of Alfred the Great, king of Wessex (r AD 871–99) and his less well-known contemporary, Ceolwulf II of Mercia (r AD 874–circa 79). The extremely rare 'Two Emperors' penny, of which the hoard contains 13 examples, shows these two kings seated side-by-side below a winged figure of Victory or an angel. This image suggests an alliance between the kingdoms of Wessex and Mercia.

After a regional tour, the hoard will go on permanent display in the England Gallery of the Ashmolean (www.ashmolean.org) near the famous Alfred Jewel.
Lindsay Fulcher

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