THIS rusty nail could be the key to one of the most exciting Viking finds made in England.

It is part of a hoard of treasures which have gone on show at the Yorkshire Museum, in York.

Archaeologist Simon Holmes said experts were "95 per cent" certain the find is a Viking boat burial - the first to be discovered in England.

A HOARD of weapons discovered by metal detector users could turn out to be one of the most important Viking discoveries made in the United Kingdom.

The find was made at what could be the first Viking boat burial site found in the UK and it can be seen by the public for the first time at a York museum.

A fascinating collection of silver coins, fragments of two swords, weights, a belt buckle, strap ends and boat nails dating back to the 9th century have gone on display at the Yorkshire Museum.

Experts believe the artefacts may have come from a Viking boat burial, a ceremony where people were buried in a boat with a group of possessions to take with them to the afterlife.

Archaeologist Simon Holmes, of the Yorkshire Museum, said a full archaeological excavation of the area where they were found would determine whether they had come from a boat burial.

He said: "If this is indeed the case, it will be the first Viking boat burial discovered in England and therefore one of the most important Viking discoveries ever made in the British Isles. This find is extremely significant and will increase our understanding of what the Vikings were doing here in Yorkshire in the late 9th century."

The items will be on display until the end of February. They will then go to the British Museum for further study. The hoard, which was discovered in December, contains some silver, and is legally classified as treasure.

Archaeologists are withholding details of the location of the find for the time being.

Updated: 10:37 Monday, February 16, 2004