Treasure 20 Fitzwilliam Museum – The Thurcaston Viking Coin Hoard

  The Thurcaston Viking coin hoard  LEIC-C6D945

This hoard from Thurcaston, Charnwood, is a very important mixed coin hoard. It contains 12 Anglo-Saxon, Arabic and Viking coins, which were found over several years by one detectorist. Because they were found one at a time, it took a while to realise they were a hoard. The finder had already donated the first coins to the Fitzwilliam Museum, so when it was declared a hoard they acquired the rest.

The Thurcaston hoard

It is, so far, the only Viking coin hoard from Leicestershire. The hoard confirms that in Leicestershire a ‘dual economy’ was practised. This is where non-english coins and pieces of silver were used in place of currency,  The Arabic coins, as foreign issues,  would be classed as bullion.  The Vking coins, issue in York, would also not be legal tender in the English Midlands, but these may have been classed as coins by their users as they would have recognised them as valid currency.  As the hoard was deposited c. AD 920 – 925, a time when the Danelaw had been re-conquered by the English, as well as providing evidence for Scandinavian settlers in the area, it also shows they were unaffected by this change of status.

The late Dr Mark Blackburn summed up its significance perfectly. “Their presence shows that a bullion economy still operated in some sections of society in the Danelaw as late as the 920’s. What is still more significant is that this hoard should have been deposited so close to Leicester, five or more years after control of the town had, according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (s.a. 918), passed to the Mercians under Aethelflaed. This hoard prompts us to question how effective the conquest of the Danelaw was, and to what extent Anglo-Scandinavian culture and practices remained?”

Found 1992 – 2000. Donated to The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.

The coins will be at Nottingham University for ‘Bringing Back The Vikings’ exhibition, which opens in November this year.