An amateur treasure hunter has discovered a “nationally significant” Viking hoard including hundreds of pieces of silver jewellery and coins.
He could barely believe it when he dug up a casket containing 200 pieces of silver jewellery, coins, hacksilver and ingots.
Experts say the 1,000-year-old artefacts, now at the British Museum in London, are of national significance.
Mr Webster said the find was “exciting”.
“It’s a long process having the find assessed. Neither me or the landowner know what will happen with it,” he added.
“I got a good signal on my detector so I dug about 18 inches and then I saw a lead pot. It was slightly open. I could see all the coins and jewellery inside. It was a great feeling.”
Bracelets elaborately engraved with serpents, which could have been worn by a wealthy Viking leader, make up part of the discovery along with rings and an impressive set of coins.
The haul is now being studied by experts at the British Museum who will reveal their findings in December.
The curator of Barrow’s Dock Museum, Sabine Skae, said she hoped the new hoard would help put Cumbria and South Lakeland on the map as having an important Viking heritage.
“Over the past ten years there has been an increase in small finds and now some larger finds which is really forcing people to look at Cumbria in a new way,” she added.
Stephen Oppenheimer, an anthropology lecturer at Oxford University, said big hoards such as this paint a new picture of what Vikings were doing in England.
The discovery of big hoards break down the stereotype of Vikings just coming over here to raid our churches and take valuables back to their own country.
A spokesman for the British Museum confirmed that Darren’s discovery was “a significant Viking hoard”.
He said: “Research on the hoard is ongoing and more information and images will be revealed at the time of the coroner’s inquest in mid-December.”
A spokesperson for Carlisle’s Tullie House Museum, where the hoard was originally taken, compared Mr Webster’s find to that of the Cuerdale Hoard found on the southern bank of a bend of the River Ribble.
When it was unearthed in 1840, it was the largest Viking silver hoard in north-western Europe.