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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

 

Tradition and innovation

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. The designs feature important people and places, significant objects, or important cultural practices that reflect a country’s identity. At the same time, coins and banknotes also need to have complex design features to prevent forgery.

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	Soho Mint – Matthew Boulton
  • 1

    Struck bronze medal of Matthew Boulton, British Isles, 1798 

    Steam powered money…

    Growing industrial activity in Britain, and international trade, meant that more money was needed. New technologies enabled increased production of coins, and developments in banking led to a greater use of paper money.

  • 2

    Carlisle City and District Banking Company, proof of £5 note, England, about AD 1837-59  

    Steam powered money…

    Growing industrial activity in Britain, and international trade, meant that more money was needed. New technologies enabled increased production of coins, and developments in banking led to a greater use of paper money.

  • 3

    Kina shell, Papua New Guinea, 20th century  

    Heritage and money…

    When explorers or colonial administrators encountered people using currencies made from stone, feather, or shells, they sometimes dismissed these as ‘primitive’ money. However they were anything but as they performed an important social and cultural function, alongside their economic one.

    Today, this heritage is a source of pride for some countries, and traditional currencies often feature in the design of their national coins and banknotes.

  • 4

    1,000 franc note, Republic of Congo, 1964 

    Identity and the banknote…

    Banknote designs can allow a country, either newly established or recently free from colonial rule, a very effective means of creating their own cultural identity and promoting certain people or events particular to their history.