London - When the Viking warrior buried his hoard of silver coins and jewellery in a lead container, he doubtless expected to be back for them after his next battle.
But thanks to those pesky Anglo Saxons, they remained undisturbed for more than 1,000 years - until Darren Webster discovered them with a metal detector during his lunch break.
Found just 18 inches beneath the surface of a field in Silverdale, Lancashire, the 201 objects were on Wednesday hailed by the British Museum as one of the most important Viking discoveries of recent times. Based on previous finds, they could be worth as much as £500,000.
Mr Webster, a 39-year-old stonemason, said he found the hoard in September.
“When I lifted the lead pot out of the ground there was a hole underneath and silver started to fall out. That is when I realised I had found something important.” Quite how important became apparent when one of the 27 coins in the hoard proved to be a previously unrecorded type which the experts believe carries the name of an unknown Viking ruler in northern England.