Silver penny of Sven Estridsen

Minted at Lund, Denmark, AD 1047-74

The Vikings and Byzantium

Although coinage in Denmark probably began as early as the eighth century AD, it only became established around the year 1000. For the first half of the eleventh century, the designs were mostly derived from English coins. At first this reflected the profits of Viking raids, but following the conquest of England in 1016 by Cnut the Great of Denmark, trading links between England and Scandinavia became more important than raiding.

As well as looking west to England, Scandinavia also had trading links via Russia with Byzantium and the Islamic world. Large quantities of Byzantine silver entered Scandinavia, and Byzantine coins were copied in Denmark from the reign of Harthacnut (1035-42). One particularly interesting coinage was struck at the mint of Lund by the moneyer Wulfet, early in the reign of Sven Estridsen, King of Denmark.

This silver penny from Lund copies the designs of a gold coin of the Byzantine emperor Michael IV, struck in 1041. It shows the emperor with the archangel Michael on one side, and Christ. Gold coins of this type were probably brought to Scandinavia by Harald Hardruler, king of Norway (reigned 1047-66), and Sven's rival for the Danish throne. Harald had served in the Byzantine army and is said in the sagas to have brought a tremendous treasure with him on his return.

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More information


J. Steen Jensen (ed.), Danish coins from the 11th cen (Copenhagen, 1995)


Diameter: 17.000 mm
Weight: 0.650 g

Museum number

CM 1906-11-3-5142


Gift of Dr F. Parkes Weber


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