TWO metal detectorists have told for the first time how they discovered a unique hoard of Viking treasure buried in a North Yorkshire field.

Stuart Campbell and Steve Caswell found what is now known as the Bedale Hoard in May 2012.

The items they uncovered include a gold sword pommel and a silver neck ring and neck collar, the likes of which have never before been recorded.

The hoard is thought to be the long lost life savings of a Viking, and has been valued by experts at £51,636.

A fundraising campaign is now underway by the Yorkshire Museum in York, which needs to raise enough money to buy the hoard in order for it to remain in Yorkshire on public display.

The Northern Echo:

Mr Campbell and Mr Caswell, who both live in the Masham area and work at the town's I'Ansons animal feed mill, have been metal detecting for four and eight years respectively.

They spend many hours researching the local landscape to identify areas which are likely to provide interesting finds.

Once out on site, they study the various features of the land, using an approach known as phenomenology to interpret how it would have been used by people hundreds of years ago.

Mr Caswell said: "It's about walking across the landscape and looking at the lumps and bumps and thinking what they are. You get a feeling for the archeology of the place."

He was convinced that they would eventually make a significant find in the area where the hoard was discovered, near Bedale.

Mr Campbell said: "Steve said to me "there is something there". He kept saying it to me and I kept going back - I had 25 visits on that same field.

"Each time we went we were finding things - button and coins - from Medieval times onwards."

Eventually, the side light from a setting sun suggested the existence of a Roman road, said Mr Campbell, and gave him the final clue about where he needed to look.

"I pulled the four stranded necklace out first," he said. "I thought it was just a piece of discarded power cable."

As more and more items turned up, he began to realise the find could be of major importance.

"I fetched out something that just looked like a blob, then the sun caught it and there was a glint," said Mr Campbell. "I thought it looked like gold. That made me look at the other piece in a different light.

"I wrapped them up in my coat and ran off to see Steve."

They returned to the site together and had another look, before covering it up, informing the farmer, and contacting their local finds liaison officer, who brought in archaeologists.

Both men are now backing the campaign to keep the hoard at the Yorkshire Museum.

"Especially with the York having such a strong Viking heritage," said Mr Caswell.