Silver penny of Anlaf Guthfrithsson

Viking, AD 939-41
Minted at York, England

Viking coin with pagan imagery

From the late ninth century, much of northern England fell under the control of the Vikings. This area was known as the Danelaw. Throughout the period of their control, Viking rulers issued their own coins in this region. The main areas of coin production were York and East Anglia. Some of the Viking coins were closely copied from Anglo-Saxon designs, but others were more distinctively Viking.

Some of the most remarkable coins are those of Anlaf (or Olaf) Guthfrithsson who ruled in York and also parts of the East Midlands. His most famous type shows a bird of prey, probably an eagle or a raven. Both birds were associated with the Norse god Odin, but the eagle is also associated with St John the Evangelist, so the religious message of the coins is uncertain. It could be a deliberately pagan symbol, or one which both pagans and Christians could accept. However, the inscription ANLAF CVNVNC means 'King Olaf' in Old Norse. Most Viking coins had Latin inscriptions, like Anglo-Saxon coins, and the use of the Scandinavian language of Old Norse seems to be a clear indication of Viking independence.

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More information

Bibliography

M.M. Archibald and C.E. Blunt, British Museum, Anglo Saxon co, Sylloge of coins of the British Isles 34 ()

M. Dolley, Viking coins of the Danelaw an (London, The British Museum Press, 1965)

C.E. Blunt, B.H.I.H. Stewart and C.S.S. Lyon, Coinage in tenth-Century Engla (Oxford University Press, 1989)

Dimensions

Diameter: 20.000 mm
Weight: 1.260 g

Museum number

CM 1862-9-30-1

CMB22034

Location

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