TWO men have denied charges arising from the police recovery of a hoard of Viking coins, dating from the Anglo-Saxon era, retrieved from two addresses in the North.

The coins and a silver ingot, collectively said to be worth almost £1m and of major historical significance, were seized from properties in County Durham and Lancashire, in May, 2019.

Craig Best, 44, of South View, Bishop Auckland, and 73-year-old Roger Pilling, of Loveclough, Rossendale, appeared today for a plea hearing at Durham Crown Court.

They both denied a joint charge of conspiracy to conceal, disguise, convert, transfer/remove criminal property, namely a quantity of Anglo-Saxon coins, between September 30, 2018, and May 10, 2019.

Both also denied possessing criminal property.

Mr Best denied one such count, involving a quantity of Anglo-Saxon coins, on May 9, 2019.

Mr Pilling denied two counts, one also involving a quantity of Anglo-Saxon coins and the second relating to a silver ingot, both on May 10, 2019.

Prosecutor Matthew Donkin and defence counsel, Ian West, for Mr Best, and David Lamb, for Mr Pilling, agreed a suitable trial date, for between five and seven days, starting at the court on June 20, 2022.

But both were bailed to return to the court for a pre-trial hearing, on May 31, next year.

At the time of the recovery of the haul, Durham Police said it contained coins of Alfred the Great of Wessex and his less well-known contemporary, Ceolwulf II of Mercia.

King Alfred inflicted a defeat on the Vikings in AD 878, and experts believe the coins belong to an undeclared hoard consistent with the location of the Viking army at that time.

When the coins were recovered in 2019, Dr Gareth Williams, curator of early medieval coins and Viking collections at the British Museum, described the collection as, “a nationally important hoard”, which could, “add significantly”, to the understanding of the political history of England.

Keep up to date with all the latest news on our website, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

You can also follow our dedicated County Durham Facebook page for all the latest in the area by clicking here.

For all the top news updates from right across the region straight to your inbox, sign up to our newsletter here.

Have you got a story for us? Contact our newsdesk on or contact 01325 505054