A HUGE response from the public has ensured the life savings of a rich and long-dead Viking will now stay in the county where they were found.

The Bedale Hoard is a fabulous collection of 1,000-year-old artefacts, including a gold sword pommel and a silver neck ring and collar.

It was initially found by Masham metal detectorists Stuart Campbell and Steve Caswell as they surveyed a field near Bedale in May 2012.

And thanks to donations from the public and grants from funding bodies, the Yorkshire Museum in York has now raised more than £50,000 to keep the hoard in the county and put it on public display.

Little is known about the origin of the artefacts and it has been theorised they were hidden by a rich Viking, possibly a chieftain, before he went to war and never returned.

After making their original find the detectorists informed the North Yorkshire finds liaison officer of the Portable Antiquities Scheme, Rebecca Griffiths, based at the Yorkshire Museum.

She and her colleague from the museum then went to the site and unearthed the rest of the hidden treasures.

As well as the pommel and solar it includes a silver armlet, 29 silver ingots, two other silver neck rings, gold rivets and half a silver brooch.

The Yorkshire Museum launched an appeal in January and the Art Fund and the Victoria and Albert Purchase Grant Fund both contributed £11,000. The rest of the funds were raised from other bodies and the public.

Curator of archaeology Natalie McCaul said: “It is fantastic that the public and funders have helped us keep this spectacular hoard. We would like to thank them for their generosity.”

She added: “The hoard is an incredible and intriguing find and one that we can now carry out research on to hopefully shed new light on Viking life in this part of Yorkshire.”

One of the original finders, Mr Caswell, said: “We can only assume that this chieftain buried it, went to battle, and never came back. Or he might have gone trading, and someone has killed him."

He added: "For that time it was an immense amount of wealth. With that money you could have hired an army.”

Further funding has been donated to conserve the hoard, but more is needed to preserve it for future generations. To donate contact natalie.mccaul@ymt.org.uk