Ancient coins offer clues about medieval society

Norway’s economic system in the Middle Ages was more sophisticated than previously thought.

Norwegian coin from 1280-85, made in Bergen. (Photo: Svein Gullbekk) 
 

This claim is based on research on coin circulation in Norwegian society in the years between 1050 to 1320. In this period the use of coins was widespread and frequent, according to historian Svein Gullbekk at the University of Oslo. His study, The velocity of circulation of Norwegian coins c. 1050 to c. 1320 was recently published in a history periodical.

“This debate has been going on for 10 to 15 years,” says Svein Gullbekk. “The main question has been if goods were paid for by coins or commodities.”