Rare jewellery Vikings used for money found in field
Two Kircubbin men have become quite the local celebrities after a rare piece of Viking jewellery they discovered last year was officially declared treasure this week.
The ruling, delivered at a special treasure trove hearing at Belfast Coroner's Court on Monday, means the valuable artifact is now on its way to the British Museum to be valued.
David Taylor (42) and his brother-in-law Andy Coulter had no idea they had made such a valuable discovery when they found the muddy bracelet-shaped piece of metal they presumed was scrap last April.
David said the men were working clearing stones from Andy's ploughed field in Inishargy, near Kircubbin, when he saw something sitting on top of a stone.
"It was getting dark and I just happened to see it sitting there. There was something about the shape of it that made me pick it up.
"As soon as I touched it I knew it was soft metal which made me think it was something of interest, although I didn't know what it was.
David slipped the object into his pocket and cleaned it up when he got home.
"To me it looked like a bracelet but I didn't know when it was from or what it was. I contacted experts, sent them some photographs and they came back to me to say they thought it was a Viking arm band."
"I had no idea at all that it would be so valuable. To be honest that hadn't even come into it at all, I just thought it looked interesting."
The inquest heard the arm band dates back to between 950 and 110AD and although primarily silver, it also contains small amounts of gold and copper.
Vikings used arm-rings as currency in place of coins as well as jewellery in the 10th and 11th Centuries and it is believed this item is of Scottish origin.
The proceeds of any sale will be equally split between the brothers-in-law. Legally, the proceeds from the sale of such a find have to be divided 50/50 between land owner and finder. David said he thinks the item will be offered to the Ulster Museum, adding he feels it is "important" the find remains in Northern Ireland.