One of the two men responsible for failing to report a multi-million-dollar Viking hoard has been denied the right to appeal certain aspects of his conviction. 

The decision, made at the Court of Appeal in London, comes two years after the defendant, George Powell, received an order to pay GBP 600,000 (USD 760,000) in compensation or face an additional five years in jail. 

Failure to report leads to arrest 

In 2019, metal detectorist George Powell, of Newport, Wales, and his associate Layton Davies, of Pontypridd, were found guilty of theft and concealing valuable treasure after discovering a huge hoard of ancient coins and other artifacts in a field in Herefordshire, England. 

By law, metal detectorists are required to report any finds to both the landowner and the Portable Antiquities Scheme, which is responsible for registering and classifying archeological finds. 

Instead, the two men illegally sold many of the coins on the black market before eventually being apprehended by the West Mercia Police. 

The treasure, known today as the Herefordshire Hoard, has been dated to the Viking Age and holds major historical significance. 

Based on written records and the contents of the hoard, experts believe it may have been buried around 877-879 by a member of the Great Heathen Army

This army is known to have camped near Gloucester and Cirencester during that time and also fought the famous Battle of Edington in 878. 

The hoard is believed to have originally contained around 300 coins, yet only 31 have since been recovered. The original collection has been valued at upwards of GBP 3 million (USD 3.8 million). 

For their roles in the crime, Powell and Davies were sentenced to six-and-a-half and eight-and-a-half years, respectively. 

Roger Pilling and Craig Best, two of the men responsible for distributing the treasure, also received custodial sentences. 

The Herefordshire Hoard, estimated at upwards of USD 3.8 million, originally contained around 300 coins along with other valuable items, but only 31 have since been recovered. Photo: British Museum / Herefordshire Council

Appeal denial sends a clear message 

In 2022, Powell and Davies received a confiscation order and were required to repay GBP 600,000 or risk facing a further five years in prison. 

This week's hearing was concerned with Powell's appeal to have the additional requirements quashed. 

According to a recent report from the BBC, however, the presiding appeal judge, Mr. Justice Wall, refused the right to appeal, finding that the original decision was based on sound legal reasoning and solid evidence. 

Metal detectorists are particularly active in the United Kingdom, and make a hugely valuable contribution to developing the country's understanding of its history. 

More than 1,000 items of treasure are reported and recorded in the UK every year, and 95% of those are found by metal detectorists

If the items are sold, the detectorist who found them is entitled to 50% of the proceeds, with the other half going to the landowner where the treasure was located. 

The latest ruling arguably sends a strong message to other detectorists about the importance of recording and preserving valuable historical finds, and underscores the need to rely on authorities to ensure adequate compensation is received. 

Along with the coins, the recovered items include a gold ring, a silver ingot, a bracelet, and a gold and rock-crystal pendant. Experts note that finding both gold and silver together in Viking Age hoards is quite rare. Photo: British Museum / Herefordshire Council

Herefordshire Hoard still going strong 

After the initial story broke, the Herefordshire Hoard was the subject of a successful fundraising campaign focused on securing as many of the original artifacts as possible. 

In addition to the recovered coins, the collection today includes a spectacular gold ring, a silver ingot, a bracelet, and a gold and rock-crystal pendant. 

Work is well underway on a new multi-million-pound museum that will provide a permanent home for the hoard. 

In the meantime, after being presented to local visitors and school groups at the Hereford Museum Resource and Learning Centre, the hoard has also recently enjoyed a long stint on display at the Jorvik Viking Centre in York. 

For more details on the theft of the Herefordshire Hoard, see this Viking Herald article

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