Precious 10th century Viking relics stolen from an English church in 2016 have been discovered by police – but a ‘historic’ fragment of Norse runic inscription is still missing

Viking relics stolen from a church in County Durham in 2016 have been safely found after police received information of their whereabouts near Darlington.

The artefacts were grabbed from All Saints Church, in Sockburn, after criminals plundered the place of worship.

Thieves made off with fragments of a Viking grave marker and a Medieval cross, carved with a small sword.

But a fragment of Norse runic inscription plundered in the initial raid is still missing.

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Thieves made off with fragments of a Viking grave marker and a Medieval cross, carved with a small sword (pictured)

Thieves made off with fragments of a Viking grave marker and a Medieval cross, carved with a small sword (pictured)

The grave marker, known as a hogback, is thought to date back to the 9th or 10th century and is engraved with a bear’s head.

Detective Chief Inspector Lee Gosling, of Durham Constabulary, said: ‘These items have significant historical value and their whereabouts have been unknown for nearly four years so it is fantastic that they have been found.

‘We are continuing to investigate the circumstances and I am appealing to anyone with any information that may help us piece together their whereabouts over the past few years to get in touch.’

The grave marker (pictured), known as a hogback, is thought to date back to the 9th or 10th century and is engraved with a bear's head

The grave marker (pictured), known as a hogback, is thought to date back to the 9th or 10th century and is engraved with a bear’s head

All Saints Church, which stands near the North Yorkshire border is a national monument and a rare surviving example of a pre and post-Norman Conquest church site and graveyard

All Saints Church, which stands near the North Yorkshire border is a national monument and a rare surviving example of a pre and post-Norman Conquest church site and graveyard

All Saints Church, which stands near the North Yorkshire border is a national monument and a rare surviving example of a pre and post-Norman Conquest church site and graveyard.

Officers have now returned the recovered stones to the Church of England.

It contains a rare collection of late 9th and 10th century Viking sculptured stone and the loss of the relics was first noticed in March 2016.

The church notified police, but it’s thought they could have gone missing at any point since September 2015.

THE VIKING AGE LASTED FROM AROUND 700–1110 AD

The Viking age in European history was from about 700 to 1100 AD.

During this period many Vikings left their homelands in Scandinavia and travelled by longboat to other countries, like Britain and Ireland.

When the people of Britain first saw the Viking longboats they came down to the shore to welcome them.

However, the Vikings fought the local people, stealing from churches and burning buildings to the ground.

The people of Britain called the invaders ‘Danes’, but they came from Norway and Sweden as well as Denmark.

The name ‘Viking’ comes from a language called ‘Old Norse’ and means ‘a pirate raid’.

The first Viking raid recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle was around 787 AD.

It was the start of a fierce struggle between the Anglo-Saxons and the Vikings.

Precious 10th century Viking relics stolen in 2016 have been discovered

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