Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1946/30421
The archaeological study of coins has many applications for the study of the Viking Age in Iceland. Here a study is made of coins that have been found in Viking Age contexts in Iceland, either as single finds or in hoards. The study is two-fold: one aspect of this project studies some of these coins, comparing those from hoards and single finds, to identify evidence for the use of coins in Iceland. The other part looks at how coins came to Iceland and what that can inform the archaeologist about contacts between Iceland and other parts of the Viking world. In order to understand how best to apply this, it is also necessary to look at how silver was used for trade in the Viking world, and how this led to the development of the use of coinage.
There are marked differences in the comparison of coins from hoards and single-find contexts. It is of great interest that the pattern of use is reversed for the single-find coins, compared to those from hoards. For example, cutting and piercing are common in single-find coins, which indicates use as ‘wearable wealth’, whereas the very high rates of pecking and bending show that the quality of the silver in hoards was of great importance. It is clear that bending was not a ritual act of deposition, but the presence of coins in burials and hoards demonstrates the importance of silver nonetheless. It appears that coins in hoards were used primarily as a storage of wealth, which was only used for trade occasionally, perhaps for overseas transactions. Single-coins, however, were used as a display of wealth and for smaller payments.