Cite this as: Heen-Pettersen, A.M. 2021 Evidence of Viking trade and 'Danelaw' connections? Inset lead weights from Norway and the western Viking World, Internet Archaeology 56. https://doi.org/10.11141/ia.56.10
This article presents and discusses the use and itineraries of inset lead weights from Norway and the wider Viking world. The weights, which are mostly inset with decorated metalwork, coins and glass are likely to be of 'Insular-Viking' manufacture, which developed in the late 9th and/or early 10th century. While the Norwegian corpus has generally received attention for its 'Irish' style of metalwork and therefore Irish affiliation, this article demonstrates how some of the material may rather have travelled to Norway via England. Here, they were extensively used in Viking milieus and the Irish-style insets were probably carried eastwards from Ireland by some of the historically attested groups who joined the Viking armies in England. The alternative route suggested for the weights which ended up in Norway has several implications, especially for providing potential evidence for integrated contact between the Danelaw area and Norway.
The article also investigates fragmented mounts, a material phenomenon found in Viking and Norse contexts on both sides of the North Sea. While these mounts are often regarded as one group, the article identifies different practices in the fragmentation of this material, based on morphological details. It is suggested that 're-fashioned' pieces, i.e. those carefully cut into pieces and reworked into dress ornaments can be separated from 'hack-bronze' – those that appear to have been fragmented in the same manner as hack silver and other metals intended for reuse as scrap or as bullion.
Corresponding author: Aina Margrethe Heen-Pettersen
Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim
Figure 1: Distribution map of inset weights from Norway (Map by Aina Heen-Pettersen)
Figure 2: Lead weights incorporating T-shaped and square mounts of likely ecclesiastical origin. A: Husabø, Stavanger (photo: Anette Øvrelid, AMS); B: Hopperstad, Vik (photo: Svein Skaare, UiB); C: Kvistad. Ørsta (photo: Olav Espevoll, UiB); D: Hurum, Berg (photo: Lennart Larsen, National Museum of Denmark); E: Håland, Vindafjord (photo: Olav Espevoll, UiB)
Figure 3: Weights incorporating circular metalwork of likely ecclesiastical origin. A: Tjora, Sola (photo: Terje Tveit, AMS); B: Missingen, Råde (photo: Birgit Marxnier, KHM); C: Solstad, Skaun (photo: Ole B. Pedersen, VM)
Figure 4: The inset on the weight from Sandtorg, Harstad (A) has close parallels in a number of finds from Britain and Ireland including those from Longtown, Cumbria (B) and Ulgham, Northumbria (C). Other enamelled examples include the finds from Setnes, Rauma (D), Kvistad, Ørsta (E) and Torland, Hå (F). (Photos by Julia Dammann, UiB (A); Portable Antiquities Scheme/Trustees of the British Museum (B and C); Ole B. Pedersen, VM (D); Olav Espevoll, UiB (E); Svein Skare, UiB (F))
Figure 5: Zoomorphic weights from Norway. A: Hopperstad, Vik (photo: Svein Skaare, UiB); B: Kaupang, Larvik (photo: Eirik Johnsen, KHM); C: Setnes, Rauma (photo: O.B Pedersen, VM); D: Hurum, Berg (photo: Lennart Larsen, National Museum of Denmark); E: Kaupang, Larvik; F: Aalgaard, Lillestrøm (photos E and F: Eirik Johnsen, KHM)
Figure 6: Examples of weights incorporating fragments of Insular metalwork. A: Hol, Sunndal; B: Kaupang, Larvik; C: Mære, Steinkjer; D: Guildford, England; E: Asker Østre, Asker. Several fragmented pieces of metalwork from England, such as the example from Guildford (D, SUR-569A64), may have been prepared for use as settings on weights. (Photos by Åge Hojem, VM (A and C); Eirik Johnsen, KHM (B); Birgit Maixner, KHM (E); Portable Antiquities Scheme/Trustees of the British Museum (D))
Figure 7: The mounts on the weights from Håland, Vindafjord (left) and Gisburn, Lancashire (right) are nearly identical. (Photos by Terje Tveit UiB and Portable Antiquities Scheme/ Trustees of the British Museum)
Figure 8: Distribution of inset lead weights from Britain and Ireland. The dotted line represents the border established between King Alfred of Wessex and King Guthrum of East Anglia in the later 9th century. This is generally used to mark the southern border of the Danelaw (Map by Philip Wood)
Figure 9: Two inset lead weights recently discovered in Hedeby by metal-detecting. (Photo: The Archaeological Museum Schloss Gottorf)
Figure 10: A selection of 're-fashioned' mounts from Norway. A: Uncertain location, Norway (photo: the author); B: Votne, Lindås (photo: Svein, Skare, UiB); C: Alstad, Levanger (drawing: Per Rasmussen); D: Orre, Klepp (photo: Svein, Skare UiB); E: Torske, Sunndalen (photo: Åge Hojem, VM)
Figure 11: Fragmented pieces of Insular metalwork from Norway, probably used as scrap or bullion. A: Skånes, Levanger (photo: Terje Hellan, VM); B: Sve, Vågå (photo: Birgit Marxnier, KHM); C. Nes, Fauske (photo: Yang Koh, UIT); D. Kaupang (photo: Erik Johnson. KHM)
Figure 12: The insets on these two weights from Water Newton, Cambridgeshire and Sheriff Hutton, North Yorkshire, found over 200km apart, comprise identical circular mounts which may derive from the same parent object. (Photos: Portable Antiquities Scheme/Trustees of the British Museum)
Figure 13: Distribution of Anglo-Saxon swords and lead weights. The distribution of swords is based on Aksdal 2017: catalogue A, with the addition of C13595, C3619 defined as L-types by Androshchuk 2014, 67. This number does not include Aksdal type IV and other specimens which may be locally produced copies. (Map by Aina Heen-Pettersen)
Figure 14: Anglo-Saxon sword from Hoven, Sunndal: one of 26 examples known from Norway. (Photo by Ole Bjørn Pedersen)
Figure 15: Coin inset weights from a male burial at Vik, Fjære which are the only examples of this type recovered from Norway. (Photos by Lill-Ann Chepstow-Lusty, KHM)
TS15216: Lead weight from Sandtorg, Harstad (2.2cm x 2cm); inset with an enamelled (now gone) harness fitting. Photo: Julia Dammann, UiB
T28144_2: Lead weight from Mære, Steinkjer (2cm x 1.9cm); inset with a T-shaped projection of a harness mount. Photo: Åge Hojem, VM
T1047: Lead weight from Tønnøl, Bjugn; partly capped by a plain copper-alloy mount. Cautiously regarded here as possibly belonging to the group of inset lead weights of 'Insular-Viking' manufacture, but this is uncertain. Photo: Ole Bjørn Pedersen, VM
T3213: Inset lead weight from Solstad, Skaun (Dia. 4.3cm). Photo: Ole Bjørn Pedersen, VM
T27510: Inset lead weight from Hol, Sunndal (1.9cm x 1.6cm). Photo: Åge Hojem, VM
T18198c: Inset lead weight from Setnes, Rauma (Dia.2.6cm). Photo: Åge Hojem, VM
T18198d: Lead weight from Setnes, Rauma; inset with zoomorphic metalwork (L. 3.4cm). Photo: Åge Hojem, VM
B11131d: Inset lead weight from Kvistad, Ørsta (Dia. 3.7cm). Photo: Olav Espevoll, UiB
B11131e: Inset lead weight from Kvistad, Ørsta (2.0cm x 1.7cm). Photo: Olav Espevoll, UiB
B4511i: Lead weight from Hopperstad, Vik; inset with a T-shaped mount (2.7 x 2.1cm). Photo: Svein Skaare, UiB
B4511k: Lead weight from Hopperstad, Vik; inset with zoomorphic metalwork (3m x 1.7cm). Photo: Svein Skaare, UiB
S1982: Lead weight from Håland, Vindafjord; an open-work copper-alloy mount of uncertain origin (3.2cm x 3cm). Photo: Olav Espevoll, UiB
S12591_1: Inset lead weight from Tjora, Sola (Dia. 3.5cm). Photo: Terje Tveit, AMS
S14112: Recently discovered inset lead weight from Husabø, Stavanger (3.3cm x 2.9cm). Photo: Anette Øvrelid, AMS
B1856: Inset lead weight from Tårland, Hå (Dia. 4.5cm). Photo: Svein Skare, UiB
C52507/67k: Zoomorphic copper-alloy weight from Kaupang, Larvik (L. 3.5cm). Photo: Kirsten Helgeland, KHM
C52507_plo: Inset lead weight from Kaupang, Larvik (Dia. 2.1cm). Photo: Kirsten Helgeland, KHM
C52517_419: Inset lead weight from Kaupang, Larvik. Illustration by Bjørn Rygh, KHM
C52517_2168: Lead weight from Kaupang, Larvik; inset with a bird-shaped copper-alloy mount (L. 2.6cm). Photo: Eirik Johnsen, KHM
C52517_812: Lead weight from Kaupang, Larvik; inset with plain copper-alloy metalwork of uncertain geographical origin (L. 2.5cm). Cautiously regarded here as possibly belonging to the group of inset lead weights of 'Insular-Viking' manufacture, but this is uncertain. Illustration by Bjørn Rygh, KHM
C52517_1893: Lead weight from Kaupang, Larvik; inset with plain copper-alloy metalwork of uncertain geographical origin (L. 2.5cm). Cautiously regarded here as possible belonging to the group of inset lead weights of 'Insular-Viking' manufacture, but this is uncertain. Illustration by Bjørn Rygh, KHM
C52519_15228: Lead weight from Kaupang, Larvik (Dia. 0.9cm); inset with glass. Photo: Eirik Johnsen, KHM
C52517/828: Lead weight from Kaupang, Larvik; inset with plain copper-alloy metalwork of uncertain geographical origin. Cautiously regarded here as possible belonging to the group of inset lead weights of 'Insular-Viking' manufacture, but this is uncertain. Illustration by Bjørn Rygh, KHM
C58678_233: Lead weight from Heimdalsjordet, Sandefjord; inset with glass. Photo: Christian Rødsrud, KHM
C62821: Lead weight from Aalgaard, Lillestrøm; inset with zoomorphic copper-alloy mount (Dia. 2.5cm). Photo: Eirik Johnsen, KHM
NMD-CMXXb: Inset lead weight from Berg, Hurum (3.2cm x 3.8cm). Photo: Lennart Larsen, National Museum of Denmark
NMD-CMXXi: Zoomorphic copper-alloy weight from Berg, Hurum. Photo: Lennart Larsen, National Museum of Denmark
C59480_13: Inset lead weight from Asker Østre, Asker (L.1.7cm, W.1.5cm). Photo: Birgit Maixner, KHM
C7826: Lead weight from Vik, Grimstad; inset with Anglo-Saxon styca (Dia. 1.8cm, H.1.9cm). Photo: Lill-Ann Chepstow-Lusty, KHM
C7827: Lead weight from Vik, Grimstad; inset with Anglo-Saxon styca (Dia. 2cm, H.1.3cm). Photo: Lill-Ann Chepstow-Lusty, KHM
Aannestad, H.L. 2015 Transformasjoner. Omforming og bruk av importerte gjenstander i vikingtid, unpublished PhD thesis: Oslo University.
Aannestad, H.L. 2018 'The Allure of the Foreign. The Social and Cultural Dimension of Imports in Scandinavia in the Viking Age', Viking and Medieval Scandinavia 14, 1–19. https://doi.org/10.1484/J.VMS.5.116387
Aksdal, J. 2017 'Dei anglosaksiske sverda. L-typesverd i England og Skandinavia', Viking LXXX, 59–88. https://doi.org/10.5617/viking.5474
Androshchuk, F. 2014 Viking Swords: Swords and Social Aspects of Weaponry in Viking Age Societies, Statens Historiska Museum Studies 23, Stockholm: Statens Historiska Museum.
Baastrup, M.P. 2013a 'Irske lodder', Skalk 2014(4), 12–15.
Baastrup, M.P. 2013b 'Continental and Insular Imports in Viking Age Denmark: Distribution and Circulation', Zeitschrift fur Archaologie Mittelalters 41, 85–208.
Blindheim, M. 1984 'A house-shaped Irish-Scots reliquary in Bologna, and its place among the other reliquaries', Acta Archaeologica 55, 1–53.
Bourke, C. 2010 'Antiquities from the River Blackwater IV, early medieval non-ferrous metalwork', Ulster Journal of Archaeology 69, 24–133.
Downham, C. 2004 'Eric Bloodaxe – axed? The mystery of the last Scandinavian king of York', Medieval Scandinavia 14, 51–77.
Downham, C. 2007 Viking Kings of Britain and Ireland. The Dynasty of Ívarr to A.D. 1014, Edinburgh: Dunedin Academic Press Ltd.
Englert, A. 2007 'Ohthere's voyages seen from a nautical angle' in J. Bately and A. Englert (eds) Ohthere's Voyages. A late 9th-century Account of Voyages Along the Coasts of Norway and Denmark and its Cultural Context, Roskilde: The Viking Ship Museum. 117–29.
Glørstad, Z.T. 2012 'Sign of the Times? The Transfer and Transformation of Penannular Brooches in Viking-Age Norway', Norwegian Archaeological Review 45, 30–51. https://doi.org/10.1080/00293652.2012.670379
Glørstad, Z.T. 2014 'Homeland – Strange Land – New Land. Material and Theoretical Aspects of Defining Norse Identity in the Viking Age' in J. Sigurdsson and T. Bolton (eds) Celtic-Norse Relationships in the Irish Sea in the Middle Ages 800–1200, Leiden and Boston: Brill Academic Publishers. 151–70. https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004255128_010
Graham-Campbell, J. 1980 Viking Artefacts: a Select Catalogue, London: The British Museum.
Graham-Campbell, J. 1986 'A late Celtic enamelled mount from Galson, Isles of Lewis', Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 116, 281–4.
Graham-Campbell, J. and Batey, C.E. 1998 Vikings in Scotland: an archaeological survey, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Hadley, D. 2012 'The creation of the Danelaw' in S. Brink (ed) The Viking World, London: Routledge. 375–9.
Hadley, D. and Richards, J.D. 2016 'The Winter Camp of the Viking Great Army, AD 872–73, Torksey, Lincolnshire', The Antiquaries Journal 96, 23–67. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0003581516000718
Hadley, D. and Richards, J.D. 2018 'In search of the Viking Great Army: Beyond the Winter Camps', Medieval Settlement Research 33, 1–17. https://doi.org/10.5284/1017430
Hall, R., Williams, G., Ager, B. and Rogers, N. 2020 'A Riverine Site Near York: A Possible Viking Camp?' in G. Williams (ed) A Riverine Site Near York: A Possible Viking Camp?, London: The British Museum. 3–102.
Harrison, S. 2014 'Historical background' in I. Russell and M.F. Hurley (eds) Woodstown. A Viking-Age settlement in Co. Waterford, Dublin: Four Courts Press. 10–20.
Harrison, S.H. and Ó Floinn, R. 2014 Viking Graves and Grave-Goods in Ireland, Dublin: National Museum of Ireland.
Heen-Pettersen, A.M. 2018 'Objects from a distant place: transformation and use of Insular mounts from Viking-Age burials in Trøndelag central Norway', Anglo-Saxon Studies in Archaeology and History 21: 60–75.
Heen-Pettersen, A.M. 2020 'Insular finds from Viking-Age Norway: Updating the Corpus' in S. Sindbæk and A. Pedersen (eds) Viking Encounters: Proceedings of the 18th Viking Congress, Aarhus: Aarhus Universitetsforlag. 435–48.
Jondell, E. 1974 Vikingetidens Balansåger i Norge, unpublished MA thesis: Uppsala University.
Kelly, E.P. 2007 'Artefact analysis' in A. O'Sullivan, R. Sands and E.P. Kelly (eds) Coolure Demesne Crannog, Lough Derravaragh: an introduction to its archaeology and landscape, Bray: Wordwell. 21–37.
Kershaw, J. 2013 Viking Identities. Scandinavian Jewellery in England, Oxford: Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199639526.001.0001
Kershaw, J. 2016 'Scandinavian-style metalwork from Southern England: New Light on the 'First Viking Age' in Wessex' in R. Lavelle and S. Roffey (eds) Danes in Wessex. The Scandinavian Impact on Southern England, c. 800–c.1100, Oxford: Oxbow Books. 87–108. https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctvh1dprb.13
Kershaw, J. 2020 'Metals and Excange in Viking-Age Yorkshire: The Contribution of Single Finds' in G. Williams (ed) A Riverine Site near York: A Possible Viking Camp?, London: The British Museum. 3–102.
Kopytoff, I. 1986 'The cultural biography of things: commoditization as process' in A Appadurai (ed) The Social Life of Things: Commodities in Cultural Perspective, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 64-91. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511819582.004
Kruse, S.E. 1992 'Late Saxon balances and weights from England', Medieval Archaeology 36, 67–95. https://doi.org/10.1080/00766097.1992.11735549
Laing, L. 1993 A Catalogue of Celtic Ornamental Metalwork in the British Isles, c AD 400–1200, BAR British Series 229, Oxford: Hadrian Books.
Marstrander, S. 1963 'Et nytt vikingtidsfunn fra Romsdal med vesteuropeiske importsaker', Viking XXVI, 123–56.
Mikkelsen, E. 2019 Looting or Missioning. Insular and continental sacred objects in Viking Age contexts in Norway, Oxford: Oxbow Books. https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctvpmw4np
Noon, S. 2014 'LANCUM-107126: An Early Medieval Weight', Portable Antiquities Scheme [website] https://finds.org.uk/database/artefacts/record/id/599470 (Accessed: 25 May 2021)
Ní Cheallacháin, M. 2019 'Preliminary results from excavations at Craddockstown North 1–5, Co. Kildare, Institute of Archaeologists in Ireland Newsletter 19(2), 36–7.
Ó Floinn, R. 2014 'Cast and gilt copper alloy' in I. Russell and M.F. Hurley (eds) Woodstown. A Viking-Age settlement in Co. Waterford, Dublin: Four Courts Press. 172–93.
Pedersen, U. and Pilø, L. 2007 'The Settlement: Artefacts and Site Periods', in D. Skre (ed) Kaupang in Skiringssal, Aarhus: Aarhus Academic Press. 179–90.
Pedersen, U. and Rødsrud, C.L. 2013 'Nye vektlodd fra Vestfold', Nicolay 119, 53–9.
Pedersen, U. 2001 'Vektlodd - sikre vitnesbyrd om handelsvirksomhet?', Primitive Tider 4, 19-36.
Pedersen, U. 2008 'Weights and balances' in D. Skre (ed) Means of Exchange. Dealing with Silver in the Viking Age, Aarhus: Aarhus University Press. 119–95.
Pedersen, U. 2016 Into the Melting Pot. Non-ferrous Metalworkers in Viking-period Kaupang, Kaupang Excavation Project Publication Series 4, Denmark: Narayana Press.
Pestell, T. 2013 'Imports or immigrants? Reassessing Scandinavian metalwork in late Anglo-Saxon East Anglia' in D. Bates and D. Liddiard (eds) East Anglia and its North Sea World in the Middle Ages, Woodbridge: Boydell. 230–55.
Petersen, J. 1940 'British Antiquities of the Viking Period found in Norway', Viking Antiquities in Great Britain and Ireland 5, Oslo: Aschehough & Co.
Pilø, L. and Skre, D. 2011 'Introduction to the site' in D. Skre (ed) Things from the Town. Artefacts and Inhabitants in Viking-age Kaupang, Kaupang Excavation Project Publication Series, Volume 3, Norske Oldfunn XXIV, Oslo: Aarhus University Press & the Kaupang Excavation Project. 17–26. https://www.duo.uio.no/handle/10852/44036
Redknap, M. 2007 'Crossing boundaries – stylistic diversity and external contacts in early medieval Wales and the March: reflections on metalwork and sculpture' in P. Sims-Williams and G. Aled Williams (eds) Crossing Boundaries/Croesi Ffiniau, Proceedings of the XIIth International Congress of Celtic Studies 24–30 August 2003, University of Wales, Aberystwyth, Aberystwyth: Cambridge Medieval Celtic Studies 53/54. 23–86.
Richards, J.D. and Haldenby, D. 2018 'The Scale and Impact of Viking Settlement in Northumbria', Medieval Archaeology 62(2), 322–50. https://doi.org/10.1080/00766097.2018.1535382
Ryan, M. 1989 'Church metalwork in the eighth and ninth centuries' in S. Youngs (ed) The Work of Angels. Masterpieces of Celtic Metalwork, 6th–9th centuries AD, London: The British Museum. 125–69.
Sheehan, J. 2013 'Viking raiding, gift-exchange and insular metalwork in Norway' in A. Reynolds and L. Webster (eds) Early medieval art and archaeology in the Northern World. Studies in honour of James Graham-Campbell, Leiden: Brill. 809–23.
Sindbæk, S.M. 2011 'Silver economies and social ties. Long-distance interaction, long-term investments – and why the Viking Age happened' in J. Graham-Campbell, S.M. Sindbæk and G. Williams (eds) Silver Economies, Monetisation and Society in Scandinavia AD 800–1100, Aarhus: Aarhus University Press. 41–66.
Skre, D. 2007 'Towns and Marekts, Kings and Central Places in South-western Scandinavia c. AD 800-950' in D. Skre (ed) Kaupang in Skiringssal, Aarhus: Aarhus Academic Press. 445–469.
Sørheim, H. 2011 'Three prominent Norwegian ladies with British connections', Acta Archaeologica 82, 17–54. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-0390.2011.00377.x
Wallace, P.F. 2014 'Weights' in I. Russell and M.F. Hurley (eds) Woodstown. A Viking-Age settlement in Co. Waterford, Dublin: Four Courts Press. 222–55.
Wallace, P. F. 2016 Viking Dublin: The Wood Quay Excavations, Kildare: Irish Academic Press.
Wamers, E. 1985 Insularer Metallschmuck in wikingerzeitlichen Gräbern Nordeuropas. Untersuchungen zur skandinavischen Westexpansion, Neumunster: Karl Wachholtz Verlag.
Wamers, E. 2011 'Continental and Insular metalwork' in D. Skre (ed) Things from the Town. Artefacts and Inhabitants in Viking-age Kaupang, Kaupang Excavation Project Publication Series, Volume 3, Norske Oldfunn XXIV, Oslo: Aarhus University Press & the Kaupang Excavation Project. 65–98. https://www.duo.uio.no/handle/10852/44036
Williams, G. 1999 'Anglo-Saxon and Viking Coin Weights', British Numismatic Journal 69, 19–36.
Williams, G. 2015 'Viking Camps and the means of exchange in Britain and Ireland in the ninth century' in H.B. Clarke and R. Johnson (eds) The Vikings in Ireland and beyond: before and after the Battle of Clontarf, Dublin: Four Courts Press. 93–116.
Youngs, S. 2001 'From Ireland Coming: Fine Irish Metalwork from the Medway, Kent, England' in C. Hourihane (ed) From Ireland Coming. Irish Art from the Early Christian to the late Gothic period and its European Context, Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. 249–60.
Youngs, S. 2017 'From island to island and beyond: workshop practices and the cultural roots of fine metalwork in the eight century' in C. Newman, M. Mannion and F. Gavin (eds) Island in a Global Context: Proceedings of the seventh international conference on Insular art, held at the National University of Ireland, Galway, 16–20 July 2014, Dublin: Four Courts Press. 266–74.
Internet Archaeology is an open access journal based in the Department of Archaeology, University of York. Except where otherwise noted, content from this work may be used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY) Unported licence, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided that attribution to the author(s), the title of the work, the Internet Archaeology journal and the relevant URL/DOI are given.
Internet Archaeology content is preserved for the long term with the Archaeology Data Service. Help sustain and support open access publication by donating to our Open Access Archaeology Fund.