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What Did Vikings Use As A Currency?

November 16, 2023

During northern Europe's Viking Age, Viking coins were in circulation. Prior to the use and minting of coins, the Viking economy was mostly a bullion economy, in which value was assessed by the weight and size of a particular metal rather than the particular sort of currency. 

By the ninth century, Viking invasions brought them into touch with societies that were accustomed to using coinage in European economies, which had an impact on the Vikings' own currency manufacture. Vikings were aware of coinage from many places, including the Arab territories of the time, within Scandinavia itself, which added to their influence. 

A flow of foreign coins served as the foundation for an early economy before they began minting their own money. Kingdoms in the British Isles that were governed by Denmark, known as the Danelaw, started to style their own coins after kings in addition to different Christian images. 

By the late 990s, it was clear that Scandinavia had adopted specific coinages for the Danish, Swedish, and Norwegian currencies. The majority of these were modeled after the rulers of these specific districts, as was the case with other coinages of the era, including those used in the Danelaw. 

Each kingdom's introduction and subsequent usage of its own money met with varying degrees of success. The discovery of numerous silver hoards in the United Kingdom and Scandinavia provides proof of the types and designs of the coins used by the different Viking kings and rulers, as well as the impact on other cultures. 

In the UK, two such hoards are the Cuerdale (which contains about 7000 coins) and Silverdale hoards. The British Museum is where the majority of the Cuerdale trove is kept. Additionally, hoards discovered in Denmark and Sweden exhibit a high percentage of Arabic coins in addition to various types of bullion, including bracelets and jewelry. 

An economy based primarily on bullion was prevalent in early Viking society. There have been claims that Scandinavian coins originated at the town of Ribe around the beginning of the eighth century, with evidence of Danish sceattas, but no archaeological evidence of a specific mint has been discovered.

In the Viking Age, a bullion economy emerged where products were traded for precious metals according to their weight and size rather than by using a specific kind of coin. The most often traded metal in the economy was silver. In order to protect people's riches, the silver was frequently measured using lead weights and melted down to be formed into a variety of other shapes (such as bracelets and other jewelry). 

Prior to the invention of coins in the Viking era, scales carried by traders made it possible to correctly account for the weights of such metals, facilitating an easier system of exchange between parties. In addition to being utilized as a medium of commerce, these different precious metals also came to represent wealth and authority in society.

If you are interested in more articles like this, here’s one about the currency used in Greece.

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