Year 995 AD – Norway’s First Coin

Silver Coin Front

Olaf Tryggvason’s silver coin, front side, Photo: University of Oslo)

Shortly after he became king in 995 AD, Olaf Tryggvason started to mint silver coins in his own name; ONLAF REX NOR (Normannorum); “Olaf, 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.

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 the command of King Olav Tryggvason and Danish King Svend Tveskæg.

King Ethelred only found one solution to the problem: To pay a large amount of money for peace, the so-called “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 because his coins are signed by the Anglo-Saxon name Godwine.

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

Olaf Tryggvason’s silver coin, back side. (Photo: University of Oslo) 

Olaf Tryggvason (Old Norse: Óláfr Tryggvason) was King of Norway from the years 995 to 1000 AD. He was the son of Tryggvi Olafsson, king of Viken, and according to the sagas, the great-grandson of Harald Fairhair, first King of Norway.

Olaf played an important part in the introduction of Christianity in Norway. He is said to have built the first church in about the year 995, and in 997 to have founded the city of Trondheim.

Today, a statue of Olaf Tryggvason is located in Trondheim’s central plaza.

 

 

Text by: Thor Lanesskog, ThorNews

 

 

 

 

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Categories: Culture, Vikings

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