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image: David Beard

A Brief Introduction To Viking Age Hoards

A hoard encompasses a variety of items, often multiple objects of similar type or material, typically including precious metals. These collections are commonly perceived as buried caches of valuables stashed away for safekeeping, only to be forgotten or lost due to circumstances like death or misfortune.

The Viking age is often associated with incessant raiding, looting, warfare, and violence, reinforcing the stereotype of hoards as defensive measures against such turmoil. However, historical hoarding was motivated by diverse factors, and these caches could remain concealed underground for centuries.

Interpretations of Viking-age hoards often revolve around the notion of concealing wealth for future retrieval. Yet, Norse sagas present instances where riches were deliberately buried to be accessed in the afterlife, to seal oaths, or to assert land claims.

Numerous Viking-age hoards discovered in or around churches in Ireland challenge conventional perceptions of “Viking” hoards and the individuals who buried them, shedding light on the Church’s role in the silver economy of Viking-era Britain and Ireland.

Even within a Christian context, religious centres provided sanctuary not only for individuals but also for possessions, with agreements made regarding their retrieval, donation, and inheritance. This challenges the simplistic categorization of hoards as either “economic” or “ritual,” highlighting the blurred lines between spiritual and material value in medieval society.

This site gives details of the most important Viking Age Hoards in Britain.

Click on the name of the hoard for further details.