NMGW-038729: Early Medieval LLANDWROG HOARD

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Unique ID: NMGW-038729

Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Awaiting validation Find awaiting validation

~~The ingots are all silver and comprise three complete and one fragmentary finger-shaped metal ingots with rounded ends, of silvery-grey appearance. The combined weight of this component of the hoard amounts to 115.09g, representing some 90% per cent of the total surviving weight of the hoard (127.77g). This points to a primary purpose of silver storage. The ingots are described individually:

Ingot 1: thin finger shaped ingot with rounded underside and flatter top (slight central indent, probably an assaying nick). One end of the ingot has been chopped off. Maximum length 55.8mm; maximum width 8 mm; maximum depth 8.4 mm; weight 25.83g.

Ingot 2: complete finger-shaped ingot with rounded underside, oval cross-section and ridged ?upper surface. Both sides have two assaying nicks (total four). Maximum length 59.6 mm; maximum width 14 mm; maximum depth 6.4 mm; weight 34.37g.

Ingot 3: complete finger-shaped ingot with rounded ends, narrow base, tapering straight sides, and wider, slightly convex top surface. The ingot has been bent in half, and there are three assaying nicks grouped together on one side. Maximum length (unfolded) 113 mm; maximum width 7.2 mm; maximum depth 9.6 mm; weight 45.86g.

Ingot 4: small complete finger-shaped ingot with rounded ends, tapering straight sides, and wider, slightly convex top surface. There are three assaying nicks grouped together on one side. Maximum length 27 mm; maximum width 8.4 mm; maximum depth 6 mm; weight 9.03g.

The ingot forms and surface characteristics are consistent with their having been cast in open moulds (stone, ceramic).

~~The nicking on the sides of the ingots is an intervention sometimes undertaken in antiquity to test purity, and evidence that they had been used in commercial transactions before burial. The ingots all display similar features (size, shape, and casting technique), consistent with a Viking-period date, as seen in examples from the Viking hoards from Cuerdale, Lancashire (deposited c. 905) and Chester (buried c. 970; Webster 1953).
As simple moulds for such ingots are found on sites and in excavations from other periods (such as the stone ingot mould from Segontium, Gwynedd (NMW acc. no. 82.22H/9), ingots of this form can be difficult to date with precision. The association of these ingots with coins is therefore of particular importance. The coins of Sigtryggr Olafsson, 'Silkiskeggi' (Silkbeard; 989-1036) recall the ingot-less Bryn Maelgwyn hoard, which also contained a coin of Sigtryggr. Mixed hoards of coins, hacksilver and ingots fall between the early Class 1 hoards (objects only, representing social function, as well as certain kinds of transaction) and the later coin-only hoards reflecting a move towards more regular coin use. In Ireland, mixed hoards appear early, but when coin hoards intensify, there is a period of overlapping economies in the 950s to 980s, after which coin-only hoards become the norm. At least four hoards on the Isle of Man indicate that bullion retained an active role in the Manx economy from the 1030s to 1060s (Glenfaba, Andreas churchyard, West Nappin and Kirk Michael; Collins et al 2014, 479). The mixed nature of the Llandwrog hoard falls into this category. Of the eight mixed/and/or coin hoards that were (or may have been) deposited in Scotland during the eleventh century, the Inch Kenneth hoard (off Mull) contained about 100 coins, three arm rings and a fragment of chain (c. 990-1002; Graham-Campbell 1995, 100). The Stornoway hoard comprised 387 items of bullion and the remains of two late tenth/early eleventh-century Normandy deniers, and the Caldale hoard, Orkney, contained over 300 coins, including a discrete parcel of Cnut deposited c. 1032-40 (ibid, 52-3) as well as ring-money and some probable ingots. A good parallel to the Llandwrog hoard exists in the larger, mixed Glenfaba hoard from the Isle of Man, deposited in a lead vessel about 1030 (Collins, Fox and Graham-Campbell 2014). It contained 464 silver coins and 25 silver ingots (four with signs of testing), and one plaited arm-ring (ibid, 471).
Ingot 1 is close in weight to the ounce of the Irish Sea region (25-26g), and the Dublin ounce proposed by Patrick Wallace of 26.6g (Graham-Campbell 2014, 507) but there is no standardisation within the group. The sizes of the Llandwrog ingots can be compared with others from Wales. A silver ingot found at Talgarth is similar in weight to ingot 4 (weight 10.2g; NMW acc. no. 2007.17H), and a silver ingot found during the 1976 excavations at Dinorben lies between ingots 4 and 1, having a length of 38mm and weight of 18.0g; NMW acc. no. 93.84H). The weight of an ingot from Trelannwyd & Gwaenysgor (29.01g) lies between the weights of ingots 1 and 2. Hacksilver found on early medieval sites in Wales includes early medieval ingots and fragments thereof found during excavations at Llanbedrgoch, Anglesey (ninth or tenth century AD).
The silver content of the Talgarth ingot (97% silver, 3% copper) compares to surface analysis of silver rods from the Skaill hoard, Orkney (94.4 - 98.3%; Graham-Campbell 1995, 78-9). Its weight (10.2g) falls within the lower end of the range for the type, and comparable to that of complete ingots found at Haslingfield, Cambridgeshire (10.62g; Treasure Annual Report 2003, no. 82), Eccleston, Cheshire (10.5g; Treasure Annual Report 2001, no. 66), Wickham Skeith, Suffolk (10.35g; Treasure Annual Report 2001, no. 67) and Over Compton, Dorset (10g; Treasure Annual Report 2000, no. 68). The Llandwrog ingot weights are small in comparison with some of over 350 from the Cuerdale hoard (some mould duplicates weighing 254.9-258.8g), but it adds to a growing database of isolated ingot finds.
The discovery of an iron axe-head of narrow bladed Viking-age tool form (Petersen type A or K) at considerable depth ('an arm's length', or about 75-85cm) in waterlogged ground about 30m to the east of the findspot raises the possibility that it had been lost in a relict channel of the Afon Lifion, and that there was a river crossing point in the vicinity of the slight rise on which the hoard was discovered.

~~This part of the find comprises eight complete or substantially complete silver coins and the fragmentary remains of up to ten others and may be summarised:

Hiberno-Scandinavian Series, Dublin
Sihtric Anlafsson (989-1036)
Phase I issues, from c. A.D. 995: eight coins, of which three are fragmentary
Phase II issues, from c. 1018: six coins, of which three are represented by fragments

Kings of England
Cnut (1016-35)
Three or four coins, all represented by fragments and probably all from the mint of Chester. Two further tiny fragments of silver may derive from these English coins.

A detailed listing is appended. None of the coins has been cleaned or otherwise conserved.

As indicated in Dr Redknap's report, the Llandwrog find represents a late example of a silver hoard containing both objects and coined silver, the coins in this instance accounting for about ten per cent of the surviving total value. Coins of Sihtric (989-1036) are very scarce as finds on the British mainland, with a handful of single finds (Blackburn 2008, 134) and the very occasional appearance in hoards (e.g. Bryn Maelgwyn, Boon 1986). However, the Llandwrog find is paralleled by the very much larger hoard found in 2003 at Glenfaba, Isle of Man (Bornholdt Collins et al. 2014). This comprises 464 coins, a plaited silver arm-ring and twenty-five whole or partial silver ingots; the coins account for around 40 per cent of the hoard's value. Of the coins, 326 are Hiberno-Scandinavian (comparable to nos 1-6, 9-14 from Llandwrog), 16 'Irish Sea' (cf. Llandwrog 6-7) and 79 Anglo-Saxon, with 42 Hiberno-Manx and one Scandinavian (categories not represented at Llandwrog). Phase II Hiberno-Scandinavian issues form the bulk of the coins (306) and outnumber Phase I by 15:1. The date of Glenfaba has been suggested to be c.1030: it lacks the very latest Phase II coins, but does include a wide range of the symbols added to the obverse dies during this phase. Llandwrog includes three or four such symbols (but this limited range may simply result from the small number of coins) and Phase I coins outnumber those of Phase II; an earlier date, perhaps c.1020-25 may be suggested for Llandwrog, but this does not rule out a slightly later deposit.

Find of note status

This is a find of note and has been designated: National importance

This find is a hoard container.

Subsequent actions

Subsequent action after recording: Acquired by museum after being declared Treasure

Treasure details

Treasure case tracking number: 2015T1


Broad period: EARLY MEDIEVAL
Subperiod from: Late
Subperiod to: Late
Date from: Circa AD 1030
Date to: Circa AD 1060

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 12

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Wednesday 25th March 2015

Personal details

Found by: This information is restricted for your login.
Recorded by: Miss Wenke Domscheit
Identified by: Mr Mark Redknap
Secondary identifier: Mr Edward Besly

Other reference numbers

Treasure case number: 2015T1

Materials and construction

Primary material: Silver
Secondary material: Copper
Manufacture method: Cast
Completeness: Incomplete

Spatial metadata

Region: Wales (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Gwynedd (Unitary Authority)
District: Gwynedd (Unitary Authority)
Parish or ward: Llandwrog (Community)

Spatial coordinates

4 Figure: SH4454
Four figure Latitude: 53.06041272
Four figure longitude: -4.32933968
1:25K map: SH4454
1:10K map: SH45SW
Grid reference source: GPS (from the finder)
Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 1 metre square.

Discovery metadata

Method of discovery: Metal detector
Discovery circumstances: Metal detecting
General landuse: Cultivated land

References cited

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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: NMGW
Created: 2 years ago
Updated: 2 years ago

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