Museum campaigners fight to keep Viking treasure

A father-of-three who uncovered a hoard of Viking silver is hoping the find will be secured by a Lancashire museum.'Darren Webster's find was officially declared treasure by Deputy Coroner Simon Jones, at an inquest at Preston Coroner's Court.

A father-of-three who uncovered a hoard of Viking silver is hoping the find will be secured by a Lancashire museum.'Darren Webster's find was officially declared treasure by Deputy Coroner Simon Jones, at an inquest at Preston Coroner's Court.

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The Silverdale Hoard of Viking treasure could go on display permanently in Preston instead of Lancaster in a “missed opportunity” for the city, according to the Friends of the City Museum.

Lancaster City Council’s cabinet decided on Tuesday to ask the county council to buy the hoard of coins and jewellery rather than invest in the treasure itself.

The Friends of the City Museum said the hoard, which was found by a metal detector enthusiast near Silverdale in 2011 and is worth £110,000, could now go on display at the Museum of Lancashire in Preston and not at Lancaster City Museum.

The organisation said it hoped that councillors would have had the courage to recommend that the city council should buy the collection.

Alan Sandham, chairman of the Friends of the City Museum said: “We are very disappointed.

“It is a missed opportunity.

“The economic benefits to the district if the hoard had become part of the City Museum’s collection would have been tremendous.”

But Coun Eileen Blamire, leader of Lancaster City Council, said: “By taking this decision the city council is helping to ensure that the hoard remains within Lancashire and demonstrates the commitment of both councils to the cultural heritage of the district.”

The county council said it would be happy to sit down and consider other options for retaining this “valuable part of Lancashire’s history”, although this would be against the current backdrop of saving measures.

Other options available for cabinet were for the city council to purchase the hoard itself, or for a joint purchase with each council funding parts of the costs.

Lancaster City Council agreed to contribute £20,000 to the purchase from its museums’ acquisition fund. The cabinet decided that given the costs associated with purchasing the hoard, which would also include conservation and display, purchase by the city council alone was unaffordable in the long term.

The longer term costs include a one-off cost of £130,000, which would be in addition to the purchase cost.

Additional costs include re-interpretation and redisplay and vary between an extra £48,000 to £655,000.

The British Museum, where the hoard is currently stored, requires payment by July 27, and county officers are working on applications to funding bodies, which are expected to produce £88,000.

A public fundraising appeal could also be launched for the remaining £22,000.