VISITORS to Oxford's Ashmolean Museum have been reminded they have about a month to save for the nation a hoard of Saxon coins discovered by a metal detectorist in a south Oxfordshire field.

A £70,000 appeal has been launched by staff at the Beaumont Street museum to save the hoard of coins for the nation.

Former marketing executive James Mather discovered the coins and other items in a farmer’s field in Watlington last October after first finding ring pulls from drinks cans.

The museum wants the public to raise the cash to keep the historic coins in Oxfordshire and Mr Mather said earlier the Ashmolean would be the 'natural home' for the collection.

A statement on the museum's website said: "We now have until January 31 to raise the remaining funds – otherwise it is highly likely that the hoard will be broken up into individual lots, sold at auction to private collectors, and may not be seen again in public."

The collection of about 200 silver coins, seven items of jewellery and 15 silver ingots date back to the ninth century, including many coins of Alfred the Great, who was born in Wantage and King of Wessex from 874 to 879.

The treasure has been valued at £1.35m by the Treasure Valuation Committee and the museum has already received some donations and a £1,102,500 donation from the Heritage Lottery Fund.