Coining money in Viking Age and more details on found hoards

Viking coin replica based on archaeological findings. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Consider there was no secure way to store wealth in the time of the Vikings. There were no banks, no marketable securities, no way to establish reliable  title to land. In essence, there was no store of value other than bullion or coins.

So, if you had a huge amount of wealth beyond your livestock and weapons, it would be in the form of bullion or coins. To keep it safe from theft, you would have to hide it in the ground.

Wealthy people who were killed, captured, never came back from another raid or trading expedition, or merely forgot where they buried their wealth abandoned all of their underground accumulation to be found some later time.

In The Age of the Vikings, Anders Winroth says children on a school outing found one hoard of 1,452 silver coins from the Viking age. Almost the entire hoard was Arabic dirham coins.

Author says there have been over 700 hoards found in Gotland. There was so much silver buried that another find is usually discovered each year.

Continue reading “Coining money in Viking Age and more details on found hoards”

Ship construction, living conditions, and winding down of the Viking Age

Reproduction of drakkar. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

A few short tidbits from the two previous books discussed in this series.

Ships

Anders Winroth, writing in The Age of the Vikings provides a number of fun details about ships.

Author says oak was the best wood for building ships. In the north where there were no oaks, pine was the best choice.

Load capacities are impressive for the times. The Skuldelev 1 ship is estimated to carry a 24 ton load. It was built sometime around 1030.

Constructing a full size model of the Skuldelev 2 ship took 27,000 man-hours.

That time estimate is for the woodworking only. An additional amount of time would be needed to cut down the trees and gather them at the construction site.

Continue reading “Ship construction, living conditions, and winding down of the Viking Age”

Weaponry and armament of a Roman Legionnaire

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

In case you are browsing through posts here instead of landing by internet search, here’s a recap of the posts on this page describing the weaponry and armament of a Roman Legionnaire.

You will find this fits well with the description of the armor of God as described by the Apostle Paul in the sixth chapter of his epistle to the Ephesians.

Posts on Legionnaire equipment and weaponry:

Upcoming posts:

  • Pilum – javelin
  • Cloak

What was learned by studying Vorbasse Village?

An abandoned vikings village. Sod rooftops, turf rooftops. Village located at the bottom of a high mountain. Around the farm a wooden fence. Dry grass all around. Traditional Scandinavian architecture

Extensive digging has been done at a small village of Vorbasse in central Jutland in Denmark. Else Roesdahl describes what was learned in The Vikings.

The village had 7 separate farms, one of which was much larger than the others.

The 6 smaller houses were large enough that they had stalls for between 20 and 30 animals. The houses were about 90 feet long.

The largest house had stall space for around 100 animals. Obviously that Dane was wealthy.

Continue reading “What was learned by studying Vorbasse Village?”

Galea – helmet worn by Roman Legionnaires.

Roman Legionnaire re-enactor wearing lorica hamata (chain mail), with gladius (sword) and pugio (daggar) on his balteus (belt), carrying a pilum (spear) and holding a scutum (shield). Also wearing what appears to be Imperial Gallic galea (helmet) with large plume on top of helmet. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

With a shield held in front of you, the most valuable and most exposed area to be protected is your head. Helmets were in used during the entire Roman Era, as well as routinely used by their predecessors and opponents.

Researchers have identified five major types of helmets, with large number of subtypes for each.

Common thread of all the helmets is the basic design was obtained from some other people group, adopted, then refined. That fits with a broader pattern I have observed that the Romans were aggressive in adopting good ideas used by enemies which they found helpful.

 

Galea – plural galeae

Wikipedia provides an introductory overview of galea.

Roman Soldier Operations Manual: Daily Life * Fighting Tactics * Weapons * Equipment * Kit by Simon Forty provides more detail, but alas, is not linkable and all the images are copyrighted.

The Complete Roman Army by Adrian Goldsworthy has several pages providing great discussion of helmets.

As is typical for the book, Legionary: The Roman Soldier’s (Unofficial) Manual by Philip Matyszak provides great ’advice’ to a Legionnaire shopping for a helmet.

 

Montefortino helmet

A Roman Montefortino helmet by Matthias Kabel  is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 . Notice the short and narrow neck guard and place to add cheek guard, which would probably have been made of leather.

Used from 4th century BC through 1st century AD

Earliest helmets were simple, with a round shape and small neck guard. These would have been easy to produce and cheaper than the later designs. They were made out of bronze.

The basic design was developed from Celtic helmets.

They apparently had cheek guards as well, since they typically have holes in the sides of the helmet. Reportedly, most of the Montefortino helmets discovered do not have a cheek guard, leading to speculation the cheek guards were made of leather instead of metal.

 

Coolus helmet

Continue reading “Galea – helmet worn by Roman Legionnaires.”

Economic and political development in the Viking Era

Swedish stamps, circa 1990. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

In The Vikings, Else Roesdahl provides a great description of how economic growth took place during the Viking era and how political development was both possible as a result and was simultaneously required for the growth to continue.

Early on men in an area would gather in “things”, local assemblies to resolve conflicts. Local yarls (rulers or strongmen, vaguely similar to a small city mayor) struggled, schemed, and fought to gain influence over larger areas.

Without a modest level of security and property rights, one dare not risk scarce capital in building a foundry or gather lots of goods for trading.

As regional yarls, or petty kings, gain influence, more stability developed.

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Researchers don’t really know much about the Viking Era but have increased knowledge with new techniques.

Viking ships on the water under the sunlight and dark storm. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The opening comments in all the books I read on the Viking Age explore the limits on our knowledge of the Viking era.  Seems to me most of the reliable information has been developed in the last century or so.

Like my discussion of other books on the Vikings and Romans, this series of posts will describe some things I find particularly interesting. My hope is this will be interesting to others as well.

With the series on this book I will start bringing in other things I have learned from previous reading.

Researchers don’t really know that much of the Viking Era

Like other authors, in The Vikings Else Roesdahl points out most of what we know of the Vikings is from contemporary victims of the Vikings or from reports written long after the Viking era ended.

As a result, as the author says, it is difficult, if not impossible

“to distinguish pure fiction from an embellished version of an event…”

and to separate

“improvements and additions to make the story more coherent, from what was once objective reality.”

Continue reading “Researchers don’t really know much about the Viking Era but have increased knowledge with new techniques.”

More ideas on how to interpret those horrible, brutal, vicious Vikings who were worse than those other horrible, brutal, and vicious people.

Illustration courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The Age of the Vikings by Anders Winroth provides lots of enjoyable information on the Viking Age.

The author suggests that much of what we think we know about the Vikings is “skewed, exaggerated, or simply misunderstood. “ He wants to challenge some of the over-the-top stories we hear.

One factor he suggests we keep in mind is the Medieval ages were incredibly violent. He suggests the Vikings were no more violent than other leaders of the time, specifically Charlemagne.

The reports of their raids, normally written by the victims, suggest they were unusually ruthless, unusually successful, unusually destructive.

In contrast to common lore, the author suggests they were just as destructive and just as brutal as all the other people groups of the time.

Continue reading “More ideas on how to interpret those horrible, brutal, vicious Vikings who were worse than those other horrible, brutal, and vicious people.”