Food preservation in Viking Era

Buckets of whey left after making homemade cottage cheese. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Ever wondered how Vikings preserved food?

Jesse Byock, in his book Viking Age Iceland, gives us insight.

Lots of great stuff in the book, of which I’ll highlight a few items that caught my eye. Posts in this series:

Food preservation

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Homespun cloth used for money in Viking Age Iceland.

Viking woman standing near Drakkar on seashore. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.  Illustration is highly consistent with other things I’ve read describing women’s clothing during the Viking Age. Notice the brooch securing the outer wrap, hair ornament, inner and outer garment.

Money is usually defined as something that is a medium of exchange, a measure of value, and a store of value.

For example, I sell you something in return for “money” which I can then immediately buy something from someone else. Or, we can use “money” to set a value for something you have. Or, I can sell something now, store the value in “money” and then buy something of equal value later.

In Iceland during the Viking Age there was not enough silver to use it as “money.” So, other things, especially homewoven cloth was used as substitute.

In Viking Age Iceland, Jesse Byock gives a good explanation of how cloth was used as a measure of value and medium of exchange.

Posts in this series:

Homespun cloth used as “money”

Continue reading “Homespun cloth used for money in Viking Age Iceland.”

Background on Viking Age Iceland

Traditional Viking houses in Iceland. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Detailed description of settlement of Iceland can be found in Viking Age Iceland by Jesse Byock.

Lots of great stuff in the book, of which I’ll highlight a few items that caught my eye. Posts in this series:

Self governance

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Tidbits on money and fighting in the Viking Age

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

Fun article on Viking coinage and more tidbits on fighting techniques.

Coins in the Viking Era

Some background on striking coins during the Viking era can be found at The Viking Network. Article dated 6/21/15 explained Vikings in Norway make their own Coins.

First silver coins flowing into Scandinavia were Arabic dirhems. Later pennies from England and the continent were a bigger portion of the coins. Even later, various kings in Scandinavia minted their own coins.

A large horde dated to 1010 A.D. or earlier contains three coins with an inscription of “ONLAF REX NOR”, which the article translates as “Olav King of the Norwegians.” Article points out it is unknown whether this is Olav Tryggvason or Olav Haraldsson.

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Norwegian Forest Cat – cute, handy pet of the Vikings

Isn’t that Norwegian Forest Cat a cutie? Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

 

Yes, there is such a breed.  The Norwegian Forest Cat runs on the large size, with males ranging from 13 to 22 pounds.

No visible date – i iz cat (yes, that’s the website’s name) – Some facts about the Norwegian forest cat, the pet of Vikings.

Tradition holds that Vikings carried them along on raids to hold down the number of mice on board and thus minimize the lost grain.

Legend hold that Freya, the Norse goddess, used six large cats to pull her chariot.

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Another guess on amount of silver looted from France and England by the Vikings

Means by which all that wealth was transferred back to Scandinavia. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Been listening again to The Vikings by Professor Kenneth Harl. Audio lectures are from The Great Courses,

The author makes a wild guess on the amount of silver carried out of the Carolingian Empire and away from England.

Based upon written accounts in the 9th century he estimates between 40,000 and 45,000 pounds of silver was extracted from the Carolingian empire as Danegeld payments.

He says most historians would estimate this was between 1/2 and 1/3 of the total silver hauled off. That means there would have been somewhere in the range of 80,000 or 90,000 pounds up to 120,000 or 135,000 pounds in addition. I will smooth that estimate out to somewhere between 80,000 and 125,000 pounds.

Over in England, king Ethelred paid out an estimated 180,000 pounds of silver.

Continue reading “Another guess on amount of silver looted from France and England by the Vikings”

One usuable indicator of the value of a Viking sword. How many weapons you could buy today for that price?

Viking warrior with sword and shield standing near Drakkar on the seashore. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

What was the price of a Viking sword at the time? How about expressing a price then in some unit of measure we can grasp today? I have looked on the ol’ net but haven’t found any good guesses. Previous post discussed one indicator that I couldn’t process.

Hurstwic website describes one sword that had a reported value.   Chapter 13 of Laxdæla saga says a sword given to Höskuldur by King Hákon was worth a half mark of gold.

Hurstwic says that is equal to 16 milk cows.

Continue reading “One usuable indicator of the value of a Viking sword. How many weapons you could buy today for that price?”

Can’t make sense of one indicator of price of sword during Viking Age

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

I’ve been wondering about the price of a sword during the Viking Era. Tripped across two indicators on the same day. One was useful, the following was a dead end. I’m not able to make sense of it.

Price of a sword and scabbard was set at 7 solidi according to the Lex Rubuaria codification of law, as reported by Wikipedia. This was during the reign of Charlemagne.

I previously mentioned this data point but did not take the next step of converting it into some indicator for current dollars:  Cost of weapons in Northern Europe in mid- 7th century.

Charlemagne became king of the Franks in 768 A.D. and expanded his rule until he died in 814, according to Wikipedia. That puts the price in the timeframe of late 700s or very early 800s. This is in contrast to the Lex Rubuaia having first been written in around 630.

I tried to convert that 7 solidi into something we can relate to.

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Overview of silver and coin usage in Viking Era

Viking silver hoard. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Short overview of the evolution of the means of exchange during Viking Era can be found in Viking Currency, an article by Dani Trynoski at Medievalists.net.

A basic economic concept to remember: part of the definition of money is a means of exchange and store of value. A silver armband, brooch, or coin can be both a store of value and means of exchange. Standard size silver coins are easier to work with on both criteria than jewelry.

A few pounds of silver is far easier to carry and use to buy stuff later than several dozen (?) furs, a dozen or two cows, or a few shiploads of grain.

Some fun highlights from the article:

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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.

Continue reading “Recap of payments made to Viking raiders, called Danegeld.”