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LANCASHIRE, UK - A father-of-three has had the last laugh after a Viking hoard he found was officially declared treasure.
Darren Webster, 39, from Silverdale, is now hoping the silver coins and jewellery will be bought by a Lancashire museum.
The stone mason’s hobby started two years ago when his wife bought him a metal detector for Christmas and he found a rare lead casket containing 27 Viking coins, from 871 to 899, and jewellery buried in a field in Silverdale on September 14.
Mr Webster said: “Metal detectors, some people look on them like it’s a bit of a sad hobby. My wife used to laugh at me.
“The first think I did was ring my wife. I said, don’t laugh, but I’ve found treasure.
“When I took it home, she soon realised that I had found something.
“She was more than happy, she thinks it’s great.
“My initial reaction was I’ve found something special. I was pretty confident it was Viking, just out of my own knowledge. I was amazed and shocked.
“The only other thing I’ve found was a silver Henry VIII Half Groat.
“A friend of mine has been doing (metal detecting) for a long time. He showed me a load of the artefacts he had found over the years.
“It sparked an interest in something that I would like to have a go at.”
The find was officially declared treasure by Deputy Coroner Simon Jones, at an inquest at Preston Coroner’s Court yesterday.
Now Mr Webster is waiting to discover how much it is worth when a preliminary valuation is held in mid January.
He will split any proceeds from a sale of the treasure down the middle with the landowner.
Following the preliminary valuation, a Treasure Valuation Committee meeting will be held in February.
One of the coins features the name of a previously unknown Viking ruler, Harthacnut, in northern England.
Mr Webster, who goes out once or twice a week, said: “The one coin that has never been seen before, how do you value that?”
Dot Boughton, finds officer for Lancashire and Cumbria, said it would be difficult to estimate a value because “Viking hoards are so rare”.
The only comparable find was the Vale of York hoard which was valued at £1.2m but was a much larger discovery, containing 700 items including a gold bracelet and a rare bowl.
She added: “We don’t get much treasure in the North West comparable to what they get (in other areas).
“It’s something to be envious of because Viking hoards are so precious.”
Mr Webster said: “I would like to see it go to a local museum where the public will see it.”
Courtesy Lancashire Evening Post
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“Treasure – If it’s out there, we’re going to find it!” (Tommy Vawter)
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