- Museum number
Silver coin. (whole)
Thor's hammer. (obverse)
Strung bow and arrow. (reverse)
Diameter: 20 millimetres
Weight: 1.25 grammes
- Curator's comments
- Graham-Campbell 1980
Ex 'An eminent collector' (Charles Barclay) sale, Sotheby (21-3 March 1831, lot 260), probably ex Bossall/Flaxton, Yorkshire, England, hoard found in 1807 (Dolley 1955).
It is now generally accepted that the 'Raienalt' who issued this coin can be identified with Regnald, the founder of the Hiberno-Norse dynasty in York who ruled there between 919 and 921, and who was probably the same man as the Regnald grandson of Ivar who campaigned in Northumbria c.914. The question remains whether any of the coin can be attributed to the earlier part of his career or whether all of them should be assigned to the period of his undoubted rule in York. Smyth argues from Symeon of Durham that Regnald took York on two occasions but the evidence for an occupation of York by Regnald in 914 is not convincing. The Thor's hammer type of solid form is, on any reckoning, late and if the dating suggested in registration no. 1915,0507.772 for the St Peter issue is accepted, it would appear that the Raienalt hammer type was copied from the St Peter type and not vice versa. Although not without its difficulties, a solution which groups all the Raienalt coins together in the period 919-21 seems preferable.
Rashleigh (Rashleigh, J. (1869): Remarks on the coins of the Anglo-Saxon and Danish Kings of Northumberland, ‘Numismatic Chronicle’ 1869, 54-107) suggested that the hand on the obverse of registration no. 1862,0926.4 represents the Iron Glove of Thor, but it has generally been seen as a version of the ubiquitous Hand of God motif, although the ambiguity of the type may well, as so often, have facilitated its adoption by pagan Norsemen, who perhaps did not appreciate its full Christian significance. An English numismatic source for the type would have been the Hand of God types of Edward the Elder but Grierson (Grierson, P.(1958) ‘Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge: Part 1’ (Sylloge of Coins of the British Isles), Oxford, no. 516) has suggested a derivation from the coins of Pope Benedict IV with the Emperor Louis III struck 901-3 which, although rare, are closer in detail to the Raienalt design (Grierson, P. (1976): ‘Monnaies du Moyen Age’, Freibourg, pl. 114-5).
The hammer of Thor is a common Viking motif which also occurs in the archaeological record.
The bow and arrow on this coin as such is without numismatic precedent unless it was a misinterpretation of the ship on the Carolingian coins of Dorestadt as can be inferred from Professor Grierson's suggestion (Dolley 1958, 42).
Literature: Dolley, M. (1958): The post-Brunanburh Viking coinage of York, ‘Nordisk Numismatisk Årsskrift’ 1957-8, 41-2; Smyth, A. P. (1975): ‘Scandinavian York and Dublin’, I, Dublin, 63-71, Dolley, M. (1978a): The Anglo-Danish and Anglo-Norse coinages of York, in Hall, R. S. (ed.) (1978): ‘Viking Age York and the North’ (Council for British Archaeology Research Report, 27), London, 27-8; Blunt (personal communication).
- Not on display
- Coins and Medals
- Registration number
- C&M catalogue number
BA1 (BMC Anglo-Saxon 1) (233) (1087)