In AD 793, a disaster struck the island of Lindisfarne from across the sea. One account describes how “the pagans desecrated the sanctuaries of God and shed the blood of the saints within the circle of the altar, they destroyed the house of our hope, they trampled the bodies of the saints in the temple of God like animal dung in the street.” ”. The Vikings had arrived. These raiders looted valuables wherever they could find them. But, on the contrary, his treasure hunt has left us valuable clues about the past.
Here are ten Viking Age treasures that have revealed a lot about life at that time.
Related: 10 Amazing Viking Inventions And Innovations
10 galloway hoard
The Galloway Hoard, discovered in Scotland in 2014, is one of the richest Viking Age treasures ever unearthed. After metal detectorist Derek McLennan discovered a silver bracelet, he called in archaeologists and they excavated a treasure trove of more than 100 objects. Along with large quantities of silver ingots were pieces of decorated gold, brooches of a type never seen before, decorative glass beads, a bowl carved from rock crystal, and a pin in the shape of a bird.
In addition to the obviously valuable pieces, there was evidence of how they were stored. Scraps of wool and silk had been used to wrap the objects. These were precious items, so how did they end up on the ground? Because the objects are a mix of typically “Viking” and Anglo-Saxon artifacts, it is unclear who buried them. Were they the loot from a successful raid? Was it a British person burying their wealth to prevent it from being stolen?
One of the silver pieces was a broken bracelet. Most silver bracelets are believed to be of Norse origin, but this one is marked in British runes with the Old English name Egbert.
9 York Vale Treasure
When two metal detectorists discovered the remains of a lead chest in 2007, they had no idea what they were about to stumble upon. While they were digging a hole, something fell off the side of the excavation. Seeing flashes of silver, they did not immediately throw away the treasure, but instead reported it to archaeologists. When the object was cleaned, it was revealed to be a gold-lined silver vessel filled with more silver objects.
In total, about 700 coins and other pieces of silver were recovered. The vessel they were in was a richly decorated goblet that closely resembled one already in the British Museum. Both were probably made in the same Carolingian workshop in the 10th century. Many of the coins inside were new types that had not been seen before.
What is most interesting about the hoard is what it reveals about how the objects traveled during this period. Items from North Africa, Afghanistan, Russia, Scandinavia and Ireland were found on a ship from France, showing just how vast the Nordic trade network was.
8 hoen treasure
Hoen Hoard is the largest collection of Viking Age gold ever discovered. Found in 1875 when a trench was being dug on a farm in Norway, it contains 207 objects. These included finger rings, neck rings, arm rings, a necklace of glass beads, and coins that have been modified so that they can be hung from the neck.
Interestingly, the found objects span 500 years of history. The oldest coin was a Roman one issued around AD 360, while the latest was minted in the late 9th century. Valuables could be treasured for generations, it seems. Many of the objects appear to have come from France.
The purpose of burying this treasure is unknown, but one theory suggests that it represents the wealth of a woman who had invested in a Viking raid. Items in this hoard, including women’s jewelry, may have been her share of the wealth brought by the raiders.
7 Herefordshire Treasure
The fate of the Herefordshire hoard is an excellent example of why important archaeological finds should be reported to the responsible authorities. When metal detectorists found this treasure in 2015, they took it and began selling the items to dealers. Rather than an entire collection of unique finds, experts only have a few items that have been recovered.
The items that have been returned are impressive. They include 30 silver coins, a golden pendant holding a rock crystal sphere, and a silver ingot. One of the coins was incredibly rare and dated to the reign of Alfred the Great. Other objects could have revealed more about the political and artistic state of the time.
Police investigated after rumors that a large treasure had been discovered and rare and valuable coins began to surface with dealers. They found photos from the detectorists, which suggest the original hoard contained at least 300 coins. When completed it was probably valued at £12 million. The detectorists would have been able to claim half this amount if they had declared the find, but instead they tried to sell it for themselves. In 2019, they were jailed for several years each.
6 Cuerdale Treasure
The Cuerdale Hoard is the greatest Viking Age hoard ever discovered in Britain. It contains over 8,600 objects and was probably buried in the early 10th century. It was discovered in 1840 by workmen reinforcing the banks of a river in Lancashire. The landowners acted quickly to ensure all items were kept together, although the workers were allowed to keep one coin each for discovery.
The treasure was found inside a large lead chest. Among the objects were bone pins. It appears as if the objects had been placed in the chest inside small cloth bundles that were held together with pins. Most of the coins were minted recently by the Norse. Some, however, were silver coins from the Islamic world. The location of the hoard, on a main route from Norse York to the sea, suggests that the hoard was intended for export.
The fact that the money was distributed makes some researchers think that it could have been prepared as payment when it arrived at its destination, each person receiving their part.
5 Bedale’s Treasure
Unlike the Herefordshire Hoard, the discoverers of the Bedale Hoard did everything right. When metal detectorists came across silver objects while exploring a Yorkshire field, they contacted the finds liaison officer, who deals with artifacts. By leaving many of the objects in the ground, they preserved the context of the hoard, which can tell archaeologists a lot about the past.
Bedale’s hoard consisted of silver ingots, silver neck rings, and a sword. The ingots were found in a small area, suggesting that they were once in a box, which had long since rotted. The most interesting thing was the pommel of the sword, which was decorated with small decorated gold plates.
The lack of coins in this hoard is not uncommon in Viking Age hoards. Silver objects that have been cut are often found. The use of this silver ingot was common at the time and formed a large part of the Viking economy.
4 Arlanda Airport Treasure
One of the largest Viking Age treasures found in Sweden helped rebuild the trade networks that crisscrossed the globe at the time. While excavating a burial mound near Stockholm’s Arlanda airport, archaeologists discovered first one coin, then another, then 470 in all. However, these coins were not produced locally; most came from Damascus and Baghdad.
The coins date from the mid-9th century, which was around the beginning of the Norse importation of coins. Most experts agree that they were traded by the Vikings rather than captured during raids. Some of the coins were Persian and centuries old when they were buried.
The burial mound where the treasure was discovered was 1,000 years older than the treasure itself. It was probably buried there as the mound was a useful marker in the landscape, and the gravediggers thought they could locate it again. They were wrong.
3 Watlington’s Treasure
Watlington Hoard isn’t particularly large by the standards of other treasures on this list. However, it is important because it marks an important moment in relations between the disputed kingdoms in Great Britain. Viking raiders invaded and took over northern England in the 860s while Alfred the Great ruled south Wessex.
The Watlington Hoard contains 13 examples of a British coin showing Alfred alongside Ceowulf II, the ruler of Mercia. The minting of these coins was supposed to show the level of cooperation between these rulers in the face of Viking opposition. This is important as Ceowulf was long thought to be a puppet of the Vikings. We now know that he was probably working with Alfred.
2 Viggbyholm Treasure
The Viking Age hoard excavated at Viggbyholm, Sweden, contained many of the items one would expect from such a hoard. There were twisted silver necklaces, bracelets, pearls, and silver coins made into pendants. But among the objects that were once deposited under the wooden floor of a building, there was a coin that aroused the most interest.
The Normans were closely linked to the Vikings. The name itself is derived from their being “North Men”. However, there is surprisingly little evidence of trade between the Normans and the Norse. This coin, however, was Norman and of a type not seen since the 18th century. Because the original coin had been lost, there were those who doubted its existence, at least until one turned up here.
The rarity of Norman coins in Viking hoards is explained by the fact that they were interested in only high-quality silver. The Normans mixed copper with their silver to mint coins. The Vikings only wanted the best.
1 spill treasure
The largest Viking treasure ever discovered was found in 1999 on a farm near Spillings in Sweden. The field was being scanned with metal detectors as part of a television news segment about how looting of archaeological sites could destroy important information about history. Once the cameras stopped rolling, the detectorists decided to continue. Within minutes, they stumbled across a hoard of silver so large that it overloaded their detectors.
In total, three deposits of silver and bronze were discovered at the site. Unfortunately, when one was pulled out of the ground intact to be X-rayed, it proved impossible. There was so much silver in the cache that X-rays couldn’t penetrate it. The hoard contained 486 silver bracelets and 14,295 coins. Most of the coins were from the Islamic world and dated from AD 539 to 870. More than 100 pounds (45 kilograms) of silver were recovered.
Several of the coins were found to be contemporary forgeries. All the coins were high-quality silver, but they had been minted to give the impression that they came from somewhere else. But as long as the silver was correct, it doesn’t seem like the Vikings cared too much.
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