A HOARD of Viking treasure unearthed by metal detectorists in a North Yorkshire field is likely to be “significant and nationally important”, according to experts.

The stash of gold and silver jewellery was discovered buried on land near Bedale and is currently being conserved at the British Museum in London.

The find includes 29 silver ingots, five silver neck rings, gold rivets, a gold sword pommel and half a silver brooch, dating from the late ninth century and early tenth century.

One of the silver neck rings has caused a particular stir, with experts declaring it a “unique” find.

The jewellery was found in May last year by metal detectorist Stuart Campbell, who reported it to the finds liaison officer at the Yorkshire Museum in York.

Two archaeologists were then dispatched to the location, which is currently being kept secret, and discovered the rest of the hoard.

A spokesman for the Yorkshire Museum said: “It’s a significant and nationally important discovery, made up of gold and silver items.”

The hoard is thought to be Viking bullion, obtained in trade or plundered from enemies, and whoever originally buried it is likely to have intended to come back for it, to exchange or melt it down and reuse for jewellery.

It is now being conserved by specialists at the British Museum, but the York Museums Trust has already indicated it hopes to raise money to keep the hoard in North Yorkshire.

The next step will be for the find to be officially declared “treasure” by a coroner under the Treasure Act.

Middlesbrough archaeologist Blaise Vyner said the stash of precious objects would not necessarily have been pillaged from the local population.

He said the Vikings were much keener on metal work than the Saxon population. They would tend to bury precious objects to keep them safe.

He said: “The idea that Vikings were coming in and pillaging objects, then going away again is not entirely true. Certainly it was part of what went on.

“Some Vikings were coming in and stealing, but a lot were becoming farmers, settling to farm the land.”

• It is the second such major archaeological find for North Yorkshire. Last week, experts concluded a sapphire ring found in a field in Escrick, just outside York, probably belonged to a Dark Ages king. Originally it was believed to have belonged to a bishop from the tenth or 11th century.