A huge haul of over 100 pieces of Viking memorabilia from around 1,000 years ago, including coins minted on the Isle of Man has been found in the north of the island.
The treasure, including 87 silver coins and 13 pieces of cut silver arm rings was found in April by metal detectorist and retired police officer Kath Giles, who also found a haul of gold and silver Viking jewellery in December, at a site only 150m away from this new discovery.
The Manx National Heritage’s curator of archaeology, Allison Fox, said in an inquest hearing that the coins were especially significant due to the range of locations in which they were minted, including England, Dublin, Germany and the Isle of Man, showing the universality of Viking currency which was valued on the amount of silver and thus interchangeable between countries. The ‘Hiberno-Manx’ coins in particular are the earliest recorded examples of their kind so far.
Allison said: ‘This is a wonderful find which helps further our understanding of the surprisingly complex Viking Age economy in the Isle of Man and around the Irish Sea area.‘
The MNH worked with independent researcher and numismatist Dr Kristin Bornholdt-Collins from New Hampshire in the US to date the coins to between the 990s and 1030s AD. She described the purpose of the collection, saying: ‘the new hoard might be compared to a wallet containing all kinds of credit cards, notes and coins, perhaps of different nationalities, such as when you prepare to travel overseas, and shows the variety of currencies available to an Irish Sea trader or inhabitant of Man in this period.’
The haul was confirmed as treasure today by the Coroner of Inquests Jayne Hughes. Under the Treasure Act 2017 which outlines any object at least 300 years old when found that is not a coin or is one of at least two coins with 10% of the weight from precious metals or one of 10 coins in the same find as treasure. This means that the haul becomes property of the crown and will now go on display at the Manx Museum before being brought for valuation at the British Museum.
Alison explained in the inquest that despite the fact that the coins have not yet been fully analysed, similar finds contained around 90% silver content so she would expect these coins to be of a similar level. She also said that the cut arm rings would have been used as currency for larger purchases to avoid counting out a large amount of small coins as transactions were based on the weight and amount of silver as opposed to the value of the pieces as currency.
However, in a statement MHH said that Dr Kristin Bornholdt-Collins, an independent researcher and numismatist based in New Hampshire, has confirmed that the hoard includes pennies minted in Dublin, England, modern day Germany and the Isle of Man itself.
Dr Bornholdt Collins said: ‘The Northern Mixed hoard is the fourth Viking-Age coin hoard to be found in the Isle of Man in the last fifty years. It may have been added to over time, like a piggybank, accounting for some of the older coins, though for the most part it is a direct reflection of what was circulating in and around Man in the late 1020s/c. 1030.’