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13.05.2021

Molnby Hoard

The Molnby hoard is a Viking-era hoard of 163 silver coins found in Molnby, the municipality of Wallentuna in Sweden, in October 2016. Most of the coins come from the vicinity of Samarkand in Central Asia and date back to the 10th century. This hoard is one of the largest Viking-era hoards discovered in the province of Uppland.

The hoard of silver coins was discovered by archaeologist Elin Sall in a Bronze Age burial field that was being investigated as part of plans to build a rail depot for the Roslagsbanan narrow gauge railroad in the area. Archaeologists published their findings about a month after the coins were discovered. After the coins were removed from the ground, they were handed over to specialists for preservation, as they immediately began to deteriorate upon contact with oxygen. After treatment they are planned to be exhibited in the Royal Mint in Stockholm. The silver deposit is one of the largest hoards from the Viking Age found in the province of Uppland.

The treasure consists of 163 silver coins, of which 113 are cut and 50 untouched. Some of the coins have thread holes in them so that they can be worn as jewelry; although the coins had a set monetary value at their place of origin, there was no monetary system in Scandinavia at the time, and the coins were coveted simply because of the value of their metal and were often turned into jewelry. The total weight of the hoard is 285 grams (10.1 ounces). The coins have inscriptions in Arabic, and most were minted around Samarkand, in what is now Uzbekistan and Iran. Several coins are imitations of Arab coins made in present-day Russia, somewhere along the Volga River. The youngest coin is dated 935 or 936 A.D.; the treasure was probably buried in the middle of the 10th century.

According to archeologists' calculations, the value of the treasure was equivalent to about ten cows or one and a half horses. This indicates that the owner of the treasure may have been a fairly prosperous farmer. Why the treasure was buried in a Bronze Age grave field is unclear. Old burials continued to be venerated long after their origins had been forgotten. They were also sometimes used as boundary markers for landowners. It is traditionally believed that Viking-era hoards were deposited in times of danger or war. However, in the case of the hoard from Molnby, there is no evidence of violence associated with the hoard. Perhaps the silver hoard was also buried for use in the afterlife. Such burials of objects are known from Icelandic sagas.

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