EXPERT evidence is being called by the defence team to assist the cases of two men accused of charges relating to a recovered hoard of Viking coins.

The coins, dating from the Anglo-Saxon era, were seized by police from addresses in County Durham and Lancashire, in May 2019.

The coins and a silver ingot are collectively estimated to be worth almost £1m and are considered of historical significance.

Appearing at Durham Crown Court last October, defendants Craig Best, 44, of South View, Bishop Auckland, and 73-year-old Roger Pilling, of Loveclough, Rossendale, denied a joint charge of conspiracy to conceal, disguise, convert, transfer/remove criminal property, the coins, between September 2018, and May 2019.

Mr Best also denied possessing criminal property, the coins, on May 9, 2019.

Mr Pilling denied two counts, one also involving the silver ingot, both on May 10, 2019.

A date for trial, estimated to last up to four days, was agreed to start on Monday June 20.

Both were bailed to return to the court for a pre-trial hearing, on May 31.

Read more: County Durham man to stand trial over recovered coin hoard

The case was ‘mentioned’ at the court last week, when the defence confirmed it is seeking the views of a coin expert, to see if the recovered currency originated from a previously recovered hoard.

Depending on the contents of the report, the prosecution may seek its own expert’s report.

Judge James Adkin said he does not believe the time for preparation of the report, or reports, would necessitate a change in the trial date.

At the time of the recovery of the haul, Durham Police said it included 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 it is believed the coins belong to an undeclared hoard consistent with the location of the Norse 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.