Irish Coin Daily: Viking Silver Trade Ingot


The Irish Coin Cabinet - a daily magazine featuring just 'best of breed' example of Irish numismatics per day. It will eventually accumulate into one of the finest archives of Irish coins in the world

Date: c. AD 950 – 1050

Viking Silver Trade Ingot, 10th-11th century AD - A rectangular-section ingot of silver with irregular ends.

Description:

Viking Silver Trade Ingot, 10th-11th century AD – a rectangular-section ingot of silver with irregular ends.

  • Weight: 11 grams
  • Length: 70mm (approx. 2.75 inches)

Country:

  • Ireland

Category:

  • Viking
    • Proto-Currency
      • Silver Trading Ingot

 


Additional Information:

It is easy to think of currency as banknotes or coins but the Vikings traded internationally across vast distances and they traded with a wide variety of cultures – some that used coins and others that did not. As such, they had to be very flexible in terms of payments.

The Vikings themselves, influenced by their contact with many different cultures and economies, evolved from a Status Economy (where wealth was measured and stored in Neck Rings and Arm Rings made from precious metals) to a Coin Economy (silver coins) via a Bullion Economy (where wealth was transferred via lumps of precious metal that was weighed).

  • Trade ingots belong to this ‘intermediate’ phase, i.e. the Bullion Economy
    • Coins of uniform weight were much more convenient for trading
    • For example, this small trade ingot could have been converted to
      • 7 Phase I (Hiberno-Norse) coins, with some left over
      • By reducing the silver content and weight, even more Phase II could have been produced

The Dublin, Wexford, Waterford, Cork and Limerick Vikings would have used trade ingots in their ‘larger’ commercial transactions. Trade ingots like the one above + many other lumps of silver have been found throughout Ireland. These finds are known as ‘hack silver’ since they usually comprise a mass of jumbled precious metal.

  • At first, the Vikings imported coins into Ireland
  • Anglo-Saxon, Carolingian and Islamic coins have been found in Viking Dublin
  • These coins have also been found in or near to the other Irish viking towns
    • As far we know, only the Dublin vikings “minted” their own coins in Ireland

Further Reading:

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