Two men to face trial over £1m Viking hoard of coins and silver

Two men have denied charges relating to a Viking hoard of historically important coins and silver worth almost £1m.

Roger Pilling, 73, and Craig Best, 44, appeared before Durham Crown Court to plead not guilty to all charges.

They denied a charge of conspiracy to convert criminal property – Anglo-Saxon coins – between September 2018 and May 2019.

Pilling, of Loveclough, Lancashire, also denied two charges of possessing criminal property – Anglo-Saxon coins and a silver ingot.

Best, from Bishop Auckland, County Durham, denied a charge of possessing criminal property, namely Anglo-Saxon coins.

They will go on trial on 20 June next year.

Durham Police said previously that officers seized a large number of coins and a silver ingot in two raids.

The hoard contained coins of Alfred the Great of Wessex 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 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.

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

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