What just happened?

To celebrate Vikings Live, we have replaced our Roman alphabet with the runic alphabet used by the Vikings, the Scandinavian ‘Younger Futhark’. The ‘Younger Futhark’ has only 16 letters, so we have used some of the runic letters more than once or combined two runes for one Roman letter.

For an excellent introduction to runes, we recommend Martin Findell’s book published by British Museum Press.

More information about how we have ‘runified’ this site

 

Money

The beginnings of money

Hoard of metal pieces

Money did not start with coinage. Thousands of years before the striking of the first coins there were comprehensive systems of financial exchange in place.

More about the beginnings of money 

The beginnings of coinage

Coin with a lion design

For over 2,000 years cities and empires traded without using coins and there is no definitive theory as to why they were first produced.

More about the beginnings of coinage

Communicating through coins

Coin with a figure on a horse

Most written records from the ancient world have been lost or destroyed. As coins are mass produced and durable, they survive where other evidence may not.

More about communicating through coins 


Signs of authority

Series of coins

The ability of money to circulate among large numbers of people and over vast geographical areas means it is often used by issuing powers to promote themselves, their values and aims.

More about signs of authority 

Money in daily life

Pendant made from a coin

Money has many uses in daily life and not solely in an economic context. It can be used as personal adornment, act as testament to a society’s cultural development or be a single, personal communication of religious belief.

More about money in daily life 

Money, religion and power

Coin with figure design

Religious imagery and text is often used on coinage to denote power and divine authority. The versatility of money is perfect for the dissemination of religious ideas and declarations.

More about money, religion and power 


Money, religion and ritual

Coin with a hole through the middle

The link between money and ritual is a common thread connecting the world. In numerous cultures and periods there has existed strong relationships between displays of wealth and religious devotion, even after death.

More about money, religion and ritual 

Money, merchants and the world

Copper token

Trade routes crossing the globe ensure that not only money travels continents and empires but also goods, ideas and languages.

More about money, merchants and the world 

Tradition and innovation

Bronze medal of Matthew Boulton

Coins and paper money need to be instantly recognisable to make them easy to use. The images on these small works of art can spread images of a country widely.

More about tradition and innovation 


Currency in the modern world

Banknote

As the British Empire expanded so did the possibilities of trade and commerce. Financial speculation both at home and abroad, whilst often lucrative, could lead to financial crisis.

More about currency in the modern world 

Money and society
 

Love token

Money captures our imaginations. In film and television, it is often glamorised, driving our aspirations. But it is also used as a way to comment on the world’s wrongs.

More about money and society 

Spending, saving and borrowing

Citi Mastercard 'chip and pin' specimen credit card ©Citibank

New technologies are transforming the way we spend, save and borrow money. We cannot always predict the social and cultural consequences that might arise from these technological changes.

More about spending, saving and borrowing