Off the coast of the Irish Sea, humans have lived on the Isle of Man since before 6500 B.C. The island has a robust history of Viking Age treasures. According to a recent announcement from Manx National Heritage, a heritage agency located there, an amateur treasure hunter recently discovered a hoard of Viking silver on the island. U.S.-based researcher and numismatist, Dr. Kristin Bornholdt-Collins, said the unearthed Viking silver hoard was similar to today’s cryptocurrency and embodied a 1,000-year-old comparison to Satoshi Nakamoto’s Bitcoin.
Viking ‘Hack’ Silver Hoard Was Modern-Day Equivalent to a Cryptocurrency
Just recently, an amateur treasure hunter searching for trinkets on the Isle of Man found a hoard of Viking silver otherwise known as “hack silver.” Manx National Heritage disclosed that the stash of ancient money contained 87 silver coins, 13 pieces of silver arm-rings, and a small fraction of other numismatic artifacts. The Viking stash was discovered in April when Kath Giles was hoovering around with a metal detector on private land.
Giles’ discovery was the third major treasure find on the Island of Man in less than six months, and Giles has managed to dig up at least four significant treasure finds in three years. Dr. Kristin Bornholdt-Collins, an independent researcher and numismatist based in New Hampshire, U.S., explained that the silver includes Dublin-minted pennies and “long cross” pennies which could be cut in half.
The latest stash of Viking silver may have stemmed from the age of the famous Viking called “Silkbeard.” Image credit: Manx National Heritage.
The Manx National Heritage announcement notes that the Viking coins have a “90% silver content.” The stash of coins Giles discovered is referred to as a “mixed hoard of Viking Age silver coins.”
‘A Currency Without Borders or Political Affiliation’
Experts believe mixed hoards of money stemmed from owners who planned to reclaim the stash of money at a later date. Bornholdt-Collins says the stash is used like a “piggybank” and could be considered a 1,000-year-old analog version of cryptocurrency.
“The Northern Mixed hoard is the fourth Viking-Age coin hoard to be found in the Isle of Man in the last fifty years,” Bornholdt-Collins said. “It may have been added to over time, like a piggybank, accounting for some of the older coins, though for the most part, it is a direct reflection of what was circulating in and around Man in the late 1020s/c. 1030.”
“In addition to the array of coins,” Bornholdt-Collins added, “both hoards contain a significant hack-silver or bullion portion, which would have been weighed out and possibly tested for its quality in the course of transactions. This is generally expected in finds dating to the ninth and tenth centuries from Viking regions, but appears to be a special feature of the later Manx hoards, too. This may be because bullion was especially convenient for international trade since it was practical for any size transaction and was decentralized, a currency without borders or political affiliation.”
The New Hampshire-based numismatist further said:
In this sense, it was a modern-day equivalent to a cryptocurrency — We might even say it was something like the original ‘Bitcoin.’ It seems only logical, then, that it was so popular in a cosmopolitan trading hub like Man, even several decades into the 11th century, when closely regulated minted silver was well on its way to becoming the norm across Northern Europe.
The Manx National Heritage team believes the coin stemmed from around A.D. 1035 and researchers believe the Viking silver was “built up over a period of a few years, perhaps representing a short-term savings account.” According to the Isle of Man heritage agency, the Viking silver will be showcased at the Viking Gallery at the Manx Museum.
The stash will then be reviewed by the Treasure Valuation Committee at the British Museum in order to provide advice to the heritage agency on caring for the antiquities found. It is assumed that the latest treasure hoard of Viking silver derived from the time of the Hiberno-Norse king Sihtric Silkbeard.
What do you think about the Viking silver found on the Isle of Man and why it is considered an analog version of Satoshi Nakamoto’s Bitcoin? Let us know what you think about this subject in the comments section below.