Islamic coins found in a Viking Age grave from Norway

Viking sword


Archaeologists have uncovered a Viking Age grave in Skaun, Norway that most likely contained the remains of a warrior. The person died in circa 950 AD and was buried with their weapons, which included a well preserved sword and shield boss.

Viking shield boss

Remains of a leather purse were found inside the shield boss. (PHOTO: ÅGE HOJEM / NTNU / SCIENCE MUSEUM)

The wooden part of the shield had decayed and disappeared in antiquity but the metal boss survived. It contained a strike mark on its surface, most likely delivered by an axe or sword, indicating that it had been used in combat. More surprisingly, the shield boss also contained a number of Islamic coins, which had been hidden inside a leather bag.

Viking sword norway

Sword fully cleaned. Remains of an inscription and textiles have emerged (PHOTO: ÅGE HOJEM / NTNU / SCIENCE MUSEUM)

According to archaeologist Ingrid Ystgaard, the coins may indicate ‘that this person visited the eastern part of the Viking world, possibly a town such as Holmgard in what today is Russia‘.

Source: NRK 

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3 Responses to Islamic coins found in a Viking Age grave from Norway

  1. Ian Magee February 15, 2015 at 7:13 pm #

    Surely not too ‘surprising’ to find Islamic coinage as they traded/sold slaves to the occupants of southern Spain.

    • Colm February 15, 2015 at 7:38 pm #

      Surprising to find it in the shield boss, it’s a not a typically hiding pace for such items. But you’re right, Islamic coinage is not that unusual from Viking Age contexts.

  2. Tim February 16, 2015 at 5:27 pm #

    Sea wasn’t the only route to Islamic connections. The Vikings traded overland and rivers right down into Istabul. There is carved Viking graffitti inside Hagia Sofia.

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