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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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Reflections on Kingship, the Church, and Viking Age Silver in Ireland

Reflections on Kingship, the Church, and Viking Age Silver in Ireland

(p.104) 6 Reflections on Kingship, the Church, and Viking Age Silver in Ireland
Silver, Butter, Cloth

John Sheehan

Oxford University Press

This chapter considers the wealth of some of Ireland’s kings, as represented by Viking Age silver hoards, and relates it to investment in the ecclesiastical sphere. While the rich Irish annals do not contain references to hoards or hoarding, there are some mentions of the phenomenon in early literary sources, and these relate to the church. Considering the occurrence of hoards and silver-working on ecclesiastical estates, as well as the status of the cross-marked ingot, it is argued that Viking Age silver hoards were deposited on church land with higher frequency than has hitherto been appreciated. This finding, in turn, suggests Irish secular elites obtained considerable quantities of silver wealth from the Scandinavians and gifted it to the church, with whom they often had close dynastic connections.

Keywords:   ecclesiastical estates, hoards, cross-marked ingots, Ireland, patronage, kingship, dynastic alliances

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