Recap of payments made to Viking raiders, called Danegeld.

Viking Coin Hoard. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Some day I plan to collate all the comments I’ve read on the amount of Danegeld and other money accumulated by various Viking raids.

In The Vikings, Else Roesdahl provides details on payments to Viking raiders:

France:

  • 44,250 pounds gold and silver during 9th century – from context I think this is from the Frankish rulers – doesn’t include ransom collected, food plundered, or side raids

England:

  • 991 – 10,000 pounds silver- Olaf Tryggvason.
  • 994 – 16,000 lb. – Olaf again, with Svien Forkbeard and 94 ships loaded with their buddies.

  • 1000 – English King Aethelred plundered northwestern England and the Isle of Man, presumably to make good for some of his previous payments.
  • 1003 – amount not stated- Svien and his warriors,  presumably as payback.
  • 1006 – 36,000 lb – Svien again,  after returning to Denmark because of famine in England.
  • 1009 – 3,000 lb – from eastern Kent.
  • 1012, after Easter – 48,000 lb.
  • 1012 – After that rich payday, the Viking group split up with everyone going home except Thorkel the Tall.  He went into service of King Aethelred agreeing to defend England from future raids.
  • 1014 – 21,000 lb – paid to Thorkell the Tall for distribution to his army.

My calculation of those items alone shows following payments in England:

  • 113,000 pounds of silver paid to Viking raiders from 991 to 1014, exclusive of Thorkel’s hired army.
  • 134,000 pounds, including the payments to mercenaries to prevent more payments.

What might that have been worth?

  • 134,000 pounds of silver
  • x 12 troy ounces per pound
  • = 1,608,000 troy ounces
  • x $550 my estimate of value of silver in Viking age
  • = $884,400,000 – my rough guess on value of silver paid to Vikings during raids on England from 991 to 1014.

Rounded, that is about 1.6 million ounces of silver, worth somewhere around $880 million dollars.

Of course, since I’m of Norwegian descent, seems to me a lot of those payments should be called Norsegeld. It is not likely that idea will ever catch on.

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