hacksilver

6

The topic of Mjølnir becoming less and less of a safe symbol that can be used to identify Heathens came up today in our Kindred server. The idea of a new symbol was brought up; and I found myself torn. On one hand:

  • Yes, a new symbol can help promote a sense of ownership, of less worry.
  • Heathenry is evolving, so it makes sense that new symbols will emerge to reflect the times and devotees.
  • There’s no way to keep symbols out of the hands of hateful people forever, but the more options, the better.

But on the other hand:

  • Fuck those racist, fascist, white-livered, shoddy excuses for human beings that are a carbuncle on the ass of paganism and the world in general.
  • Thor was mixed. His children were mixed. He was possibly queer. He was a champion of the common man. 
  • Yes, a lot of history is problematic. But that doesn’t mean that problematic people get to keep using it as a template instead of a deterrent. They’ve shit on enough history as it is. 

Then I was asked what I would use. And my response is braceates/coins. Penningar, dirhams, hacksilver, the hoards are full of inspiration.  I like the idea of using coins because they’re cheap to get/make in a lot of materials. And they represent the travel and trade, not the isolation and hate. There’s just as much evidence for co-existing as there is for conquest.

The Cuerdale Hoard

The enormous Cuerdale Hoard of Viking silver was discovered in Lancashire on 15 May in 1840. The hoard, which is the largest Viking silver hoard known from western Europe, consists of over 8,500 silver objects, weighing some 40kg in total. Most of the pieces are coins, together with ingots (silver bars) and cut-up brooches, chains, rings and other ornaments (known as hacksilver). Most of the hoard’s coins were minted in Viking-controlled England, while the hacksilver is mainly Irish or Irish-Viking in form and decoration. Other pieces originated from further afield – Scotland, the continent, Scandinavia, the Baltic Sea region and the Islamic lands of Central Asia and the Middle East. In this way, the Cuerdale Hoard reflects the Vikings’ extensive international connections across much of the known world.

This enormous silver treasure was discovered by workmen repairing the bank of the River Ribble in 1840. Records from the time describe how one workman’s spade hit loose coins, spilling them into his wheelbarrow. The hoard was taken to Cuerdale Hall, where it was said to cover a sitting room floor.

A hoard of this size represents extraordinary wealth – probably of many persons rather than one individual. It is likely to have been collected over time as loot, tribute and through trade. The reasons for the Cuerdale Hoard’s burial are not known. It may have been hidden for safe-keeping at a time of unrest, or represents a secure method of stock-piling riches over time.

The latest coins in the hoard enable us to date its burial to between about AD 905 and 910. This, together with the Irish origin of most of the hacksilver, has fuelled speculation that the hoard belonged to Vikings who were expelled from Dublin in AD 902.