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Viking Designs

Drawing of a Polyhedral Weight

This drawing is of a polyhedral weight of a type that the Vikings adopted from Middle Eastern cultures and brought back to Europe with them. These weights are very common on Viking Age sites.

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Viking Objects

Coin of Cnut the Great (LEIC-4B7888)

This Short Cross Type silver penny was minted in the name of King Cnut between 1024 and 1030 in the Derby mint by the moneyer Swartinc. The location of discovery is unknown. Minting coins was a way of controlling the means of exchange within a kingdom and which created a more easily administered standardized system of trade. Moreover, the coins themselves were often used as propaganda, portaying symbols and statements that gave off a desired message. The Vikings later used the minting of coins to legitimize their own rule.

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Viking Objects

Coin of Cnut the Great (LEIC-3E8CC4)

This silver Helmet IIIc Type penny was minted for King Cnut of England in London. The obverse inscription reads CNVTREXANG while the obverse reads EADPOLD ON LVND. Minting coins was a way of controlling the means of exchange within a kingdom and which created a more easily administered standardized system of trade. Moreover, the coins themselves were often used as propaganda, portaying symbols and statements that gave off a desired message. The Vikings later used the minting of coins to legitimize their own rule.

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Viking Objects

Carolingian Denier (LIN-F6C6E1)

A Carolingian silver denier issued by Louis the Pious and classified as a Christiana Religio type, which was his third and last coinage. It is possible that it made its way to England prior to Viking incursions but it is equally likely that the Vikings brought this coin with them as plunder after raiding in Frankia.

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Viking Objects

Unprovenanced Abbasid Silver Dirham (CM_1777_2008)

It is unknown for which ruler this dirham was minted nor where the mint was located. However, it has been speculated that the mint would have been located somewhere in Iraq, Iran, or Central Asia. The dirham was a unit of weight used across North Africa, the Middle East, and Persia, with varying values which also referred to the type of coins used in the Middle East during the Viking Age. These coins were extremely prized possessions not only for their silver value but as a way of displaying one’s wealth and vast trade connections. Millions of Arabic dirhams would have been imported throughout the Viking world and are mostly found in hoards. It is thought that one cause of the Viking Age was a reduction in access to Arabic silver.

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Viking Objects

Forged Hack-gold Rod (CM 595-2010)

This forged hack-gold rod comprises a curved section of gilt copper-alloy. It is square in cross-section and is broken at both ends. It shows that someone near Torksey was trying to con others by passing copper-alloy as gold. Like hacksilver, hack-gold was used to pay for items by weight of precious metal. The buyer and seller would agree the value of an item and pieces of silver or gold would have been cut up and weight out until the right amount had been paid. Gold was much less common among the Vikings than silver.

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Viking Objects

Reproduction Round Weight

A round lead weight made in an open mould, as shown by the rounded edges of the top which indicate shrinkage in the mould.

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Viking Objects

Gold Ingot (BH-720251)

The Vikings arriving in England had a bullion economy in which they paid for goods, most commonly, with silver that was weighed to an amount agreed between the buyer and the seller. Though rarer than silver equivalents, this gold ingot formed part of the bullion currency used by Vikings in England. It took some time for the Scandinavian settlers to adopt a monetary economy like that of the Anglo-Saxons, and both systems were used simultaneously for a while before they fully adopted the new system. The Vikings were familiar with monetary economies but they treated coins as just another form of bullion before adoption of a monetary economy.

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Viking Objects

Northumbrian Styca (LEIC-0D9D6F)

This Northumbrian styca was probably minted in the name of Æthelred II of Northumbria possibly by the moneyer Eanwulf. While Wessex and Mercia were using silver coinage as part of their monetary economy, Northumbria was using copper coins known as stycas, which may have contained trace amounts of silver. The concentration of these coins at sites such as Torksey and ARSNY (‘a riverine site near York’) suggests that they could have remained in circulation after the fall of Northumbria in 866 but were taken to these sites by the Vikings during their campaigning. This particular example was likely brought to Nottinghamshire from Northumbria by means of the Great Army’s overwintering activities in and around Nottingham.

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Viking Objects

Coin of Cnut the Great (DENO-28F8A6)

This silver penny is a posthumous issue of Cnut, with arm and sceptre obverse type, minted by Thurgrim in Lincoln under the authority of King Harthacnut. Minting coins was a way of controlling the means of exchange within a kingdom and which created a more easily administered standardized system of trade. Moreover, the coins themselves were often used as propaganda, portaying symbols and statements that gave off a desired message. The Vikings later used the minting of coins to legitimize their own rule.

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Viking Objects

Arabic Dirham Fragment (LIN-5F318A)

Fragment of an Early Medieval Arabic dirham, probably dating between the eighth-ninth centuries. The fragment appears to have been cut down into a smaller module. The fact that it may have been cut suggests that it was used as part of a bullion transaction in line with the dual bullion-monetary economy established by the Vikings in England. The circulation of Arabic dirhams is generally attributed to Viking activities and this example’s proximity to the winter camp of Torksey likely connects the dirham with the activities of its inhabitants. Arabic coins are especially useful for dating sites, because they carry the date when they were minted. This permits precise dating where the part of the coin with the date survives, whereas European coins can only be dated to the reign of the ruler depicted on them. In western descriptions of these coins, the Arabic dates found on the coins are usually listed in square brackets, as above, and the European equivalent is listed after it. This coin is a product of the Abbasid Caliphate which was ruled from its capital in Baghdad. The Abbasid Caliphate was at its greatest extent c.850 CE, occupying lands from Morocco in the west to Afghanistan in the east.

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