Viking Hoard of Silver Coins Discovered in Sweden

by on April 4, 2008 · 2 comments

Viking ShipFor an archaeologist, the words "Viking", "Coins" and "Sweden" are likely to bring to mind Sweden’s island province of Gotland, a known Viking hub or trading center where several hundred silver coin hoards have been discovered over the years. (See map of Gotland).

In just a bit of an unusual twist, a treasure trove of Viking silver coins have been found on Sweden itself. The Local, a Sweden news site, reports 450 silver coins were uncovered by archaeologists from the Swedish National Heritage Board—an agency of the Swedish government responsible for preserving Sweden’s heritage and historic treasures.

Typical Viking hoards contain coins from multiple countries, testifying to their traveling exploits. This instance was no different with some coins coming from Baghdad and Damascus and from a period somewhere between 500 and 840 AD.

The Local reports that the silver coins were found by a grave which may be 1000 years older than the coins. They were located near Sweden’s Arlanda airport. (See Arlanda, Sweden map).

For the very short The Local article, read Viking treasure found near Arlanda.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Koichi Ito April 5, 2008 at 3:30 am

What kind of Silver Coins Viking Hoard included? Did Viking also had Gold Coins or even Platinum Coins? Is any Viking took interest being a Numismatist? Or just making a living?

Kaz April 10, 2008 at 7:47 pm

1) The coins usually found in Swedish Viking hoards are silver dirhams. These coins
are found in Viking hoards in the Baltic Region, Russia, Ukraine and Central Asia. Silver dirhams were made by the Abbasid, Umayyad and Arab-Sassanian states of the
Middle East… these states were trading partners of the Vikings. Silver dirhams were also made by the Samanid empire of Central Asia, also a major trading partner. Some silver drachms of Sassanid Persia were also found in Swedish Viking hoards. Silver hexagrams of the Byzantine empire are found as well, but these coins are rare. Norwegian and Danish Viking hoards have silver pennies from Britain as well as silver deniers of France.

2) Viking hoards rarely had gold coins. While the Vikings used silver coins and silver objects as money, they used gold coins and gold objects as jewelry. Only the very rich and powerful Viking kings and chieftains had gold; the usual Viking warrior and trader only had silver at most. And the kinds of gold coins found in Viking sites are gold dinars from the Middle East, Byzantine gold solidi and Frankish gold coins. Vikings did not have any platinum on them whatsoever. During those days, platinum was not desired, not wanted and not used. In fact, platinum was not seen as a useful metal until the 18th century. By the 19th century, platinum was seen as a precious metal.

3) As far as we can tell, Vikings were not numismatists: They treated coins like scrap metal. Vikings did not care in what form their metal came in… they could simply melt it down and re-make it into whatever they wanted. If they wanted to use their metal (chiefly silver) as money, they just took their silver coins, silver jewelry or silver anything to the shopkeeper and used it as payment.

I hope this answers your questions.

Leave a Comment