THE trial of two men, one from County Durham, over the alleged illegal possession of a hoard of Viking coins, has been put back to next year.

Craig Best, 45, of South View, Bishop Auckland, and 74-year-old Roger Pilling, from Rossendale, in Lancashire, deny a joint charge of conspiracy to conceal, disguise, convert, transfer/remove criminal property, the coin hoard, between September 2018 and May 2019.

Both men also deny possessing criminal property, the coins, in May 2019, while Mr Pilling denies the same charge relating to a silver ingot.

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

A previous scheduled trial in the case, which was to have started at Durham Crown Court on June 20, was taken out of the list to enable experts in old coins for both the defence and prosecution to prepare reports as to their views over the provenance of the hoard.

Read more: Some of the recovered coins were seized from an address in County Durham

The new date now agreed to allow for the availability of counsel in the case and the respective experts, is in April, next year.

A pre-trial hearing took place at the court today (Wednesday June 29) and was adjourned until September 16, when an hour-long hearing will allow for the assessment of the available evidence ahead of next year’s scheduled trial.

When the hoard, considered of national importance, was recovered, in 2019, Durham Police said it includes coins of Alfred the Great of Wessex and a contemporary, Ceolwulf II, of Mercia.

King Alfred’s army defeated its Viking adversaries in AD 878 and the coins are believed to belong to an undeclared hoard consistent with the location of the Viking army at the time.

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