Tuesday, 12 February 2013

I Will Raise You One Silver Sceatta

The Dark Ages. The period between Romans leaving and the Normans arriving. 410AD to 1066AD. What do you think when you see those words, The Dark Ages?
King Arthur? Saxon Invasions? Viking Invasions? A nation lost in time? As sunk under the burden of history and academic conjecture as the mythical Atlantis?
Tribes spread throughout Britain, who would rather shiver in their primitive Grub Huts than relocate to that gleaming deserted Villa on the hill? With its warmth giving insulated walls, Hypercaust system, plunge pools and steam rooms?

Maybe in some places in Britain this was the case. No doubt it is hard to prove otherwise, on the current evidence, what was happening region by region in Britain at this time. But at least there are archaeological finds from some areas that show proof of a thriving community, post Roman Britannia, as undeniable.

Such as the 2012 discovery in York, in the York Minster Undercroft, of a coin – a sceatta – which not only dated a layer of the deposits in this dig to the Eight Century, but also gave up evidence of an Anglian mint and the moneyer's name, Eadwine. A well known minter for the Northumbrian Royal Court.
So there was money and plenty of it, which would indicate that York was a city of its time. Perhaps thriving, trading and flourishing in post Roman York (Eboracum) under the hand of the Anglo-Saxons. A place of enough wealth and economic links to lure a Norse culture across the seas to its walls, where they in turn used their own unique methods of conquer, habitate and populate to mould it into a Anglo-Scandinavian community called Viking York (Jorvik). 
 Not a Dark Ages wasteland then. Not a shadow strewn complex of crumbling Roman edifice. The wind stalking empty buildings and eroding all traces of a once provincial and urbane society.
No, not that at all.

In modern York. As it is known today. Each February they hold the Jorvik Viking Festival. http://jorvik-viking-centre.co.uk/festivals/. This year a talk will be held on the York Minster Discoveries and then in late Summer an exhibition will be opened where you can see this silver Sceatta for yourself. What a treat if you can get there.

- MM


  1. It's amazing how much history can be gleaned and inferred from only coins. Entire centuries of Roman history are documented almost exclusively by coins. This sceatta no doubt tells a fascinating tale with all that it implies.

  2. yes, it is completely amazing. Imagine the amount of Archaeological digs that are solved, from a timeline context, by a solitary coin or a single piece of pottery. Thank goodness for both. :)