Hacksilver

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Hacksilver from the medieval period, Museum für Hamburgische Geschichte, Hamburg, Germany.
The mixed Cuerdale Hoard also contains 8,600 coins, as well as these ingots and pieces of jewellery and plate.
Viking age settlement, eighth to eleventh centuries; trade and raid routes are marked green.

Hacksilver, or Hack-silver, is fragments of cut and bent silver items treated as bullion, either for ease of carrying before melting down for re-use, or simply used as currency by weight. It was common among the Norsemen or Vikings, as a result of both their raiding and trade. The modern Russian currency the "ruble" is derived from the Russian verb рубить, rubit, i.e., to chop, from the practice of the Rus, described by Ahmad ibn Fadlan visiting the Volga Vikings in 922. An example of the related Viking weighing scale with weights was found on the Isle of Gigha.[1] Hacksilver may be derived from silver tableware, Roman or Byzantine, church plate and silver objects such as reliquaries or book-covers, and jewellery from a range of areas. Hoards may typically include a mixture of hacksilver, coins, ingots and complete small pieces of jewellery.

Examples[edit]

  • The 4th or 5th century hoard of Traprain Law (Traprain Treasure) consists of four silver coins and over 53 pounds of sliced-up Late Roman silver tableware, much of it of very high quality. Whether this was handed over by Romans to the Pictish occupants of the site, or the products of raids on Roman Britain, is unclear.
  • The Skaill Hoard, the largest Viking Age silver hoard found in Scotland, consists of over 100 items, including jewelry, a few coins and assorted hacksilver. The hoard, dated to between 950 and 970, was found in Skaill, Sandwick, Orkney, in 1858.[3][4][5]

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