Library visitors come face-to-face with famous Viking hoard

Selected pieces from a precious Viking hoard will be making a special appearance at Bicester Library from 2pm-4pm on Saturday May 13.

The event will provide a unique opportunity for people of all ages across north Oxfordshire to see the hoard up close and to discover why this Viking treasure is so important to the story of England.

The Ashmolean Museum, in collaboration with Oxfordshire Museum Service, is staging free roadshow events around the county which include talks, object handling sessions and displays of items from the hoard at locations including Bicester, Faringdon, and of course, Watlington.

  • Drop into Bicester Library on Saturday afternoon and meet experts who will be sharing their knowledge about this wonderful find
  • Discover more about Anglo-Saxon and Viking times, through object handling and craft activities; and have a close encounter with a Viking.
  • All events are family friendly.

“Remarkable find”

Carol Anderson, Oxfordshire County Council’s Museums Service Manager said: “We are delighted to be able to work with colleagues from the Ashmolean to take the hoard out into communities across Oxfordshire, enabling as many people as possible to see this remarkable find and learn more about its discovery and significance for the history of England.”

Gareth Williams, Curator of Early and Medieval Coinage and Viking Collections, from the British Museum will also be giving a public lecture at Bicester library, between 1.30 and 2.30 pm. Tickets are free but limited, so we recommend advance booking

About the Watlington Viking Hoard

The Watlington Viking hoard comprises about 200 coins, some of them fragmentary, seven items of jewellery and fifteen ingots (bars of silver). The find is not particularly large, but it is hugely significant because it contains so many coins of Alfred the Great, King of Wessex (r.871-99) and his lesser well known contemporary, Ceolwulf of Mercia (r 874 -879).

The vanishingly rare ‘Two Emperors’ penny, of which the hoard contains thirteen examples, shows these two kings seated side-by-side, suggesting an alliance between the kingdoms of Wessex and Mercia. This, remarkably, challenges the accounts found in written sources which dismissed Ceolwulf as a puppet of the Vikings.

The Ashmolean Museum raised £1.35 million required to purchase the hoard for the nation in 2015. More than 700 members of the public contributed to the appeal. Lead support came from a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant of £1.1 million to acquire the hoard and fund a range of educational and outreach activities including this event.