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Cuerdale Hoard (United Kingdom)

Lancaster's Viking Hoard

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The Cuerdale Hoard

Viking hoard at the British Museum

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The Cuerdale Hoard is an enormous Viking silver treasure of some 8000 silver coins and pieces of bullion.

It was discovered in Lancashire, England in 1840, in the region called the Danelaw, because it was owned by the Danes in the 10th century AD. It is only one of several Viking hoards found in the Danelaw, but is the largest to date. Weighing almost 40 kilograms, the hoard was found by workmen in 1840, where it had been buried in a lead chest sometime between AD 905 and 910.

Coins in the Cuerdale Hoard

Coins in the Cuerdale Hoard include a large number of Islamic and Carolingian coins, numerous local Christian Anglo-Saxon coins and smaller amounts of Byzantine and Danish coins. Most of the coins are of English Viking coinage. Carolingian (empire of Charlemagne) coins in the collection came from Aquitaine or a Netherland mint; Kufic dirhams come from the Abbasid dynasty of the Islamic civilization.

The oldest coins in the Cuerdale Hoard are dated to the 870s, and are the Cross and Lozenge type made for Alfred and Ceolwulf II of Mercia. The most recent coin in the collection (and thus the date usually assigned to the hoard) was minted in 905 AD by Louis the Blind of the West Franks. Most of the rest can be assigned to the Norse Irish or the Franks.

Non-Coin Objects in the Cuerdale Hoard

The Cuerdale Hoard also contained hack-silver and ornaments from the Baltic, Frankish, and Scandinavian regions. Also present was a "Thor's hammer pendant", a stylized representation of the Norse god's weapon of choice. Scholars are of course unable to say whether the presence of both Christian and Norse iconography represents the owner's brand of religion or the materials were simply scrap for bullion.

Sources

This glossary entry is a part of the About.com Guide to the Vikings, and part of the Dictionary of Archaeology.

The BBC History page has a good resource on the Cuerdale Hoard.

Archibald, Marion M. 2007. The evidence of pecking on coins from the Cuerdale Hoard: Summary version. pp. 49-53 in Silver Economy in the Viking Age, James Graham-Campbell and Gareth Williams, eds. Left Coast Press, Walnut Creek, California.

Williams, Gareth. 2007. Kingship, Christianity and Coinage: Monetary and political perspectives on silver economy in the Viking Age. pp. 177-214 in Silver Economy in the Viking Age, James Graham-Campbell and Gareth Williams, eds. Left Coast Press, Walnut Creek, California.

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