The Cuerdale Hoard



Sometime at the start of the 10th century a bunch of Vikings were rowing up the River Ribble. On board their vessel was an enormous silver treasure chest. For some unknown reason the Vikings decided to stop, dig a hole and bury their swag. None of them ever came back to collect it.

In 1840 (175 years ago this year )the hoard was discovered by a gang of workman repairing the nearby bank of the river. Some attempt was made by the workmen to fill their pockets with coins from the find but following the intervention of a bailiff they were allowed to keep one piece each while the rest was taken to Cuerdale Hall where the trove covered  a sitting room floor. It was the largest Viking hoard ever found in Western Europe.

The hoard was made up of 8,500 items mainly coins from Viking controlled territory. The other items were ingots with cut up broaches, chains and rings known as “hack silver”. From the dates on the coins historians can tie down the burial of the hoard to a five year period between 905 and 910. Much of the hack silver has been identified as being of Irish origin giving rise to speculation as to whether there was a connection with the Viking expulsion from Dublin in 902. The Ribble would have been  a natural highway between Dublin and the great Viking centre of York (Jorvick). Were these freebooters on their way to assist some warlord in the north east of England? 

Freebooting marauding Vikings fit into the popular notion of the Viking Age when the constant prayer was “From the fury of the Northmen deliver us O Lord.” Yet the discovery of the hoard gives us another picture – one which reflects the wide international connects the Vikings had across the known world in all likelihood made not by conquest but peaceful trade. The non-Viking coins originated from the English (Anglo Saon) Kingdoms, the Continent, Byzantium and areas of Moslem influence in the Middle East and beyond.

The Cuerdale Hoard is a national treasure and most of it is exhibited at the British Museum. However there are displays locally at the Harris Museum, the Lancashire Museum and the South Ribble Museum. In the summer months Dr David Hunt leads a guided walk to the site of the discovery. The walk described follows that route.


Start: St Leonard's Church Walton-le-Dale


Fact file:  
Distance: 2 miles 3k (Extended walk 5 miles 8k)

Time: 1 - 1 ½ hours (Extended walk 2 - 2 ½ hours)

Grade: Easy

Please note the last part of this walk leaves the public right of way. Readers wishing to view the memorial stone should contact the farmer of Cuerdale Hall , Mr John Redmayne on Tel: 01772 877222

Map: OS Explorer 286 Blackpool & Preston


Map by kind permission of Johnston Press 

Directions: From the church cross the road and turn right. After 300yds bear left


onto a farm drive which drops down past residences


and then before farm buildings swings left and then right alongside a tall hedge.


After a metal gate (where you may encounter mud so be prepared)


the public footpath follows the field boundary on the right.


Initially you are close to the river but the takes you away from it as you cross a large bend of the Ribble.


After four fields


the path reaches a metal gate


alongside a wire fence.  Through this the public right of way continues on an enclosed track near Cuerdale Hall. Safe in knowledge you have permission once through the gate turn left and head towards the river bank.  The memorial to the find - a squat stone marker is situated close to the fence. 



Extension to the walk. For readers who would be irked by retracing their steps return to the public footpath and turn left and where the path divides beyond the hall bear left along the river bank. This will take you onto the A59 at Brockholes Bridge. Turn left cross the bridge to join the Guild Wheel Cycle Route/ Ribble Way. In 2 ½ miles this brings you to London Road A6. Turn left across London Road Bridge and kept ahead to Walton-le-Dale. After 700yds turn left into Cuerdale Lane.

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