A new Viking treasure found on the Isle of Man

A new Viking treasure found on the Isle of Man

This is the second Viking treasure discovered by Keith Giles, an amateur detectorist, on the Isle of Man off British shores. The former police officer transformed into a treasure hunter, this time unearthed a set of coins and objects that may have been buried in the early 11th century.

The Isle of Man, located in the Irish Sea off the British and Scottish coasts, is a small area with a centuries-old history and soils particularly rich in archaeological remains. This is evidenced by the new discovery by Keith Giles, a former police officer turned treasure hunter who uncovered remarkable 10th-century jewelry on his land last December. Thanks to her metal detector, this time she got her hands on a set of 87 coins, 13 pieces of silver rings, or “bullion” (for monetary use) and various items, in April. date between the 10th and 11th centuries, i.e. during the period of domination Viking On the island. ” To find out about such a thing is an incredible feeling. We can hardly believe his eyes… we touch what no one else has touched for a thousand years », declared the inventor of the treasure.


A traveler’s piggy bank?

entrusted to Max National HeritageThe treasure was studied by Kristin Bornhold-Collins, independent researcher and numismatist, an organization in charge of the preservation and promotion of the Isle of Man’s cultural and historical heritage. Analysis of coins of local origin, but also of Irish, English and Germanic origin, made it possible to date the burial of the artifact around 1020 or 1030, although some fragments probably date from the early 10th century. To the specialist, this deposit corresponds to personal money that a person may have accumulated over many years and then buried, such as a piggy bank or traveler’s wallet in which we would collect monetary types of different periods and nationalities. .

Coin discovered on the Isle of Man with an effigy of Citric with Silky Beard, King of Dublin © Manx National Heritage

Most coins are minted with portraits of kings, whether Sihtrik Silkiskeg, or Citric with the Silky Beard, (Norse king of Dublin from 989 to 1036), Nut (king of Denmark from 1018 to 1035, then England from 1016 to 1035 , and King of Norway from 1028 to 1035), King Ethelred II (King of England from 978 to 1013 and of 1014 to 1016) or Otto II (Emperor of the Holy Germanic Roman Empire from 973 to 983). According to Kristin Bornhold-Collins, this monetary treasure ” Denoting the variety of currencies available to an Irish Sea trader or inhabitant of man at the time ».

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ancestors of bitcoin

Max National Heritage curator Alison Fox says the discovery helps improve our understanding of Viking-era economics around the Isle of Man and the Irish Sea, she says. “Surprisingly Complicated “. In addition to the variety of currency, we see that the treasures discovered by Cath Giles contained a number of coins with the so-called “long cross” motif, which allows the coin to be cut in half when only half is needed for payment. Furthermore, the presence of fragments from both England, Germany and Ireland testifies to the commercial ties that existed at the time.

Allison Fox, curator of the Manx Museum, and Cath Giles, amateur treasure hunter, present Viking-era pieces found on the Isle of Man.  © Max National Heritage

Allison Fox, curator of the Manx Museum, and Cath Giles, amateur treasure hunter, present Viking-era pieces found on the Isle of Man. © Max National Heritage

Unlike national currencies, which have value only in a specific political region, the Isle of Man’s currencies derive their value from their silver content and are therefore “borderless”. Therefore they were transferable from one region to another. For example, a Dublin silver coin may be used in England, and vice versa. The operation of the pieces of silver rings (bullion) is similar. The latter were actually weighed and used as currency. Kristin Bornhold-Collins explains: ” Bullion was particularly useful for international trade, as they were suitable for transactions of various sizes. They were decentralized; A currency without borders or political affiliations. […] In that sense, it was on par with our current cryptocurrency. You can even say that they were the ancestors of bitcoin. ».

government treasury

The body of the remains discovered by Keith Giles is officially given the status of “treasure”, given by Isle of Man coroner Jayne Hughes. After being analyzed by the Treasury Appraisal Committee, an independent committee for the appraisal of antiquities, the objects will be displayed in the Viking gallery of the Max Museum. In the past fifty years, four such treasures have been found on the Isle of Man.

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