This beautiful crucifix was one of many hundreds of Viking Age silver objects found in Trondheim in 1950. (Photo: Photo: Åge Hojem, NTNU University Museum)
In 1950, in connection with an expansion of the post office in the city center of Trondheim, there was discovered a silver treasure dating back to the Viking Age. Together with two crucifixes and two silver links, 964 coins from many different countries were found.
The treasure was probably hidden around the year 1030 AD, just before or after the battle of Stiklestad, one of the most famous Viking Age battles.
The objects were wrapped in birch bark and buried on the outskirts of Trondheim.
The dating of the youngest coin is somewhat uncertain, but it is either from the year 1027 or 1035. The 964 silver coins are both of Anglo-Saxon, German, Norman, Swedish, Danish, Irish and Kufic (Arabic) origin.
The silver coins are considered a very important finding for our understanding of the Viking Age economy. Several of the coins are divided into smaller pieces showing that the weight of the silver was more important for the Vikings than the coin itself.
Example of Kufic coins found in Scandinavia. (Photo: Museum of Cultural History, Oslo)
The two crucifixes found together with the coins are probably of Scandinavian origin. They are filigree silver work in so-called Ringerike Style, but experts do not know where they were made. Today they are displayed at the NTNU Museum in Trondheim.
Two silver links were also discovered along with the rest of the treasure.
There are turbulent times in Norway in the 1020s and 1030s. Olaf Haraldsson who was a Christian (later named St. Olaf) are trying to recapture the crown but is killed in the Battle of Stiklestad (Old Norse: Stiklarstaðir) northwest of Trondheim on 29. July 1030.
The Longhouse on the Stiklestad Middle Age farm – today a part of the Stiklestad National Cultural Center. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons / Gunhild Rikstad)
According to Snorri’s Heimskringla, the best known of the Old Norse kings’ sagas, Olaf traveled with about 3,600 men, including a core of experienced soldiers, through Sweden and crossed the mountains into the valley of Verdal. On the battlefield at Stiklestad, Olaf met a highly motivated army consisting of about 14,400 peasants.
A part of the peasant army was led by the devout heathen Thorir “the Hound”. Thorir was one of the greatest chiefs in Hålogaland in Northern Norway and was reported to be one of the chieftains who killed Olaf.
Was it one of Olaf’s followers who hid the treasure before he was forced to flee?
The only thing certain is that the owner must have been a well-traveled and powerful person.
- See also: The Hoen Viking Age Gold Treasure
Text by: Thor Lanesskog