Treasure hunters who swiped a £3million hoard of historic coins have been convicted of theft.

George Powell, 38, and Layton Davies, 51, found the trove, which experts believe was buried more than 1,100 years ago.

It included a 9th-century gold ring, a dragon’s head bracelet and up to 300 coins with inscriptions from Saxon-Viking times.

The coins included “two emperors” featuring the faces of King Alfred the Great and King Ceolwulf II, last king of Mercia, worth up to £50,000 each.

By law they should have reported the discovery on a farm in Leominster, Herefordshire, but instead they tried to hide its true nature so they could make a fortune on the black market.

A gold ring from the ninth century which was part of the £3 million Viking hoard
George Powell and Layton Davies found it buried in the ground on Herefordshire farmland

The metal detectorists decided to sell the items in small batches via coin experts Paul Wells, 60, and Simon Wicks, 57.

Only 31 of the coins and a few pieces of the jewellery have ever been recovered, and the hunt for the rest of the loot continues.

All treasure found in the UK belongs to the Crown and a Treasure Valuation Committee decides how it should be shared among the finder and the landowner or tenant.

George Powell
Layton Davies

But Powell only handed three coins he found to the owner of the farm and those were “not particularly valuable”, Worcester crown court heard.

Powell of Newport, South Wales, and Davies of Pontypridd denied theft but were found guilty.

Coin experts Paul Wells of Cardiff and Simon Wicks of East Sussex denied conspiring to conceal the hoard but were also found guilty.

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Powell, Davies and Wicks were denied bail.

They will be sentenced later.

Lesley Milner of the Crown Prosecution Service said: “This find had immense historical value and should have been disclosed to the authorities.”