Herefordshire Council has set aside over a million pounds to buy, look after and display the famous Herefordshire Hoard.

Also known as the Leominster Hoard, the collection of coins and jewellery from the Viking era, mostly from the late ninth century, was discovered in 2015.

What is available is only a small share of what was actually found at the site, near the village of Eye, north of Leominster.

Rather than reporting their find at the time, Welsh metal detectorists George Powell and Layton Davies, who were on the land illegally, sold much of it to private dealers.

The two were later given substantial jail sentences, as was one of the dealers involved.

The detectorists “still have not revealed the location of the missing majority of the hoard”, a council report on the decision said.

The value of the total hoard has been put at anywhere between £3 million and £12 million. A provisional value of the part of it currently on offer is £776,250.

Once the value is finalised, the council will have three to four months to raise the funds. It is the first institution to be given the opportunity to buy any of the hoard.

“If not acquired, the hoard is potentially at risk of being lost to the public, and in particular to the residents of Herefordshire, for example, by ending up in private ownership,” the council report says.

The council had already touted the hoard as a key element of its planned new Marches Experience to be housed in Hereford’s main library and museum on Broad Street.

This will be the centrepiece of the 20-million-pound Stronger Hereford programme of improvements to the city, backed by government funding.

The council’s report says it expects payback from its investment in the hoard, which totals £1,008,890.

As “a national attraction”, the hoard “will enhance Herefordshire’s tourism offer, bringing visitors into Hereford and extend the museum’s profile”, it said.