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Silver, Butter, ClothMonetary and Social Economies in the Viking Age$
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Jane Kershaw, Gareth Williams, Søren Sindbæk, and James Graham-Campbell

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198827986

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198827986.001.0001

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The Rise of Spiritual Economies in Late Viking and Early Medieval Scandinavia

The Rise of Spiritual Economies in Late Viking and Early Medieval Scandinavia

(p.90) 5 The Rise of Spiritual Economies in Late Viking and Early Medieval Scandinavia
Silver, Butter, Cloth

Svein H. Gullbekk

Oxford University Press

With this chapter, the book moves to consider the role of precious metals within non-monetary economies. It compares attitudes to wealth in Scandinavia before and after the widespread adoption of Christianity, and argues that new Christian doctrines encouraged coin use within an ‘economy of salvation’. Harnessing archaeological evidence of coins found beneath the floorboards of Scandinavian churches, the chapter argues that Christian parishioners made regular offerings of low-denomination coins in exchange for salvation. Dating evidence suggests that this practice began in the late eleventh century, but expanded during the twelfth, and thus occured against a backdrop of wider societal monetization; indeed, devotional offerings of coins were one means for the church to raise revenues. This process reveals how the meaning and function of coins were transformed as they moved from the profane to ritual spheres.

Keywords:   coins, economy of salvation, spiritual economies, offerings, churches, Eucharist

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