As well as hosting the travelling exhibition ‘Viking: Rediscover the legend’ (details below), Nottingham University is also hosting a complimentary exhibition. ‘Danelaw Saga: Bringing Vikings back to the East Midlands’ highlights the Scandinavian presence in the East Midlands. The exhibition focuses on the evidence for this, which includes artefacts recorded by the PAS.
Voluntarily recorded objects are extremely important when it comes to plotting possible Scandinavian settlement. Most of the items are casual losses in areas which may never be subject to archaeological investigation. In Leicestershire we are lucky enough to have a few key items which strengthen this evidence and compliment other sources, such as place names, historical documents, maps and personal names.
The most illuminating finds are ‘Anglo-Viking’ coins. As well as the important Thurcaston hoard (LEIC-C6D945 ) which contains Anglo-Viking, Anglo-Saxon and Islamic coins, we have recently recorded three individual ‘St Edmund memorial’ coins in the county and two of these will be on display in the exhibition (LEIC-B7F405 and LEIC-4FC58C). The coins were issued by Viking leaders in England and these and the silver ingots from Breedon, also being displayed ( DENO-34FB88 and DENO-CE6103), are evidence of what is known as a ‘dual economy’ where coinage was used alongside ‘hack silver’.
Vikings had no coinage in their homelands and would use silver by weight in any form, coins, ingots, broken up objects (hack silver), as currency. When they began to settle here, their leaders began issuing their own coinage. The York mint produced the most varied types, but a ‘St Edmund memorial type was issued at an unknown mint and is increasingly found across eastern England. We have recorded 34 examples with the bulk coming from Suffolk. As no English person could legally use an Anglo-Viking coin and casual losses make up a tiny proportion of all coins in circulation, these finds hint at a substantial Scandinavian population in the area.
‘Viking: Rediscover the legend’ – Djanogly Gallery, runs from Saturday 25 November 2017 to Sunday 4 March 2018. Admission is free.
‘Danelaw Saga: Bringing Vikings back to the East Midlands’ – Weston Gallery, Friday 15 December 2017 to Sunday 8 April 2018. Admission is free