Viking hoard sheds light on King Ceolwulf

A close up of some of the jewellery and ingots of a significant Viking Hoard found near Watlington, in Oxfordshire which includes rare coins from era of King Alfred the Great (871-899) and King Ceolwulf II (874-79). (Alastair Grant, AP)
A close up of some of the jewellery and ingots of a significant Viking Hoard found near Watlington, in Oxfordshire which includes rare coins from era of King Alfred the Great (871-899) and King Ceolwulf II (874-79). (Alastair Grant, AP)

London - A trove of Viking jewellery and Saxon coins unearthed by an amateur treasure-hunter in a farmer's field may help rescue an English king from obscurity.

The British Museum on Thursday unveiled the Watlington Hoard, a collection of silver bands, ingots and 186 coins from a tumultuous period in British history.

The coins were minted during the reign of Alfred the Great, king of Wessex, who battled Viking invaders during the 9th century.

Alfred is renowned as the ruler who helped unify England, but some coins also bear the name of the more obscure King Ceolwulf II of Mercia, a neighbouring kingdom to Wessex.

Curator Gareth Williams said the discovery provided evidence that the kings were allies, but that Ceolwulf was "airbrushed out of history" by Alfred after they fell out.

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