TWO metal detectorists who stole a £3 million Viking hoard have been given lengthy jail sentences at Worcester Crown Court.

George Powell, 38, and Layton Davies, 51, failed to declare an "invaluable" collection of buried treasure of coins and priceless jewellery, worth up to £12 million - with most of it still missing.

The items, many of which were Anglo Saxon but are typical of a Viking burial hoard, were dug up on Herefordshire farmland on June 2, 2015.

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It is thought the trove was buried by someone within the Great Viking Army in either 878 or 879, which by then was being forced back east by an alliance of Saxon forces.

Among the priceless hoard was a 19th century gold ring, a dragon's head bracelet, a silver ingot, a crystal rock pendant dating to the fifth century and up to 300 coins, some dating to the reign of King Alfred.

Powell, of Kirby Lane, Newport, who was described as having the "leading" role, was jailed for 10 years while Davies, of Cardiff Road, Pontypridd, received eight-and-a-half years.

Both were also convicted alongside two other men, 60-year-old Paul Wells, of Newport Road, Cardiff, and Simon Wicks, 57, of Hawks Road, Hailsham, East Sussex, with conspiring to conceal the find.

Sentencing at the court on Friday, Judge Nicholas Cartwright said they had "cheated" not only the landowner but the public of "exceptionally rare and significant" coins.

He said: "90 per cent of the coins or thereabouts remain hidden to this day.

"All four defendants played their respective parts. You, Simon Wicks, were part of a conspiracy to conceal the stolen treasure and to sell it. Paul Wells, who will be sentenced on a future occasion, was part of a conspiracy to conceal part of the stolen treasure.

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"The irony in this case is if you, George Powell, and you, Layton Davies, had obtained the permissions and agreements which responsible metal detectorists are advised to obtain, if you had gone on to act within the law after you found this treasure, you could have expected to have either a half share, or at very worst a third share.

"You could not have done worse than £500,000 each. But you wanted more."

Only 31 of the coins have been recovered, although mobile phone photographs on Davies's phone - later deleted, but recovered by police - showed the larger hoard, still intact, in a freshly dug hole.