Year 995 A.D. – Norway’s First Coin

Shortly after he became Viking king in 995 A.D., Olav Tryggvason started to mint silver coins in his own name; ONLAF REX NOR (Normannorum); ‘Olav, King of the Norwegians’. On the front is a picture of a king, a chest picture with scepter. On the backside – a cross with one letter in each angel of the cross that together forms the word CRVX, Crux: Latin for ‘cross’. To mint coins was not something Olav Tryggvason invented; both sides of the coin are a copy of an Anglo-Saxon coin dated to the years 991-997 AD.

At that time, Ethelred II was king of England. He got the nickname ‘The Confused’ because he did not know what to do in a battle against the Viking army under King Olav Tryggvason’s and Danish King Svend Tveskæg’s command. King Ethelred only found one solution to the problem: To pay a large amount of money for peace – ‘Dane Debt’.  In the spring of 995, Olav Tryggvason returned back home with a lot of Anglo-Saxon Crux coins in his luggage. He probably also brought with him an Anglo-Saxon mint-master:  His coins are signed by a mint-master with the Anglo-Saxon name Godwine.

The silver coin on the picture is from the big treasure found at Igelösa, nearby Lund in Skåne, Sweden.

Photo on top: Silver coin, front side. Below: Silver coin, back side

Olaf Tryggvason (Old Norse: Óláfr Tryggvason, Norwegian: Olav Tryggvason) (960s – 1000) was King of Norway from 995 to 1000 A.D. He was the son of Tryggvi Olafsson, king of Viken, and, according to later sagas, the great-grandson of Harald Fairhair, first King of Norway.

Olaf played an important part in the often forcible, on pain of torture or death, conversion of the Norse to Christianity. He is said to have built the first church in Norway (in 995) and to have founded the city of Trondheim (in 997). A statue of Olaf Tryggvason is located in the city’s central plaza.


Text by: Thor Lanesskog, ThorNews

Sources: University of Oslo, Wikipedia

Photos by: University of Oslo





Categories: Culture, Vikings

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