ANGLO-SAXON, Anglo-Viking (Danish East Anglia). Late 9th century (870-899CE). PB lead 1.33 Ore = 35.85g 21mm. Circular lead weight. Obverse inset with Series K, type 32a sceat. Circa 720-740. Wolf headed coiled serpent obverse. Mint in East Kent Cf. G. Williams, Anglo-Saxon and Viking Coin Weights, in BNJ 69 (1999), no. 5 (for a similar lead weight with inset Porcupine-type sceat). For inset: Abramson 38.40.10 SCBI 63 (BM), 490 SCBC 803C-D. Bordered by incuse triangles containing one raised dot. Much as made. Very rare and interesting.
ex CNG 102 Lot 1421 May 18, 2016
Williams' analysis of the known weights of this type clearly places them in the Danelaw during the later ninth century, when the Viking economy was still bullion-based, and weights were used for weighing both coinage and bullion.
The purpose of the coins set into these weights remains uncertain, but Williams suggests that they served both a decorative and a practical function as a symbol of authority. Although the Viking economy was still pre-monetary, Williams notes that the Vikings were familiar with coinage and likely recognized that coin designs represented state authority. He also suggests that the Vikings were probably familiar with Anglo-Saxon coin weights, which were validated by the virtue of being stamped with official dies, and argues that the lack of coin dies for use on their own weights was remedied by applying a coin within each. Williams points out that the fact that some of the coins used were issued by Anglo-Saxon kings would have been irrelevant, as the vast majority of the Vikings were illiterate. The present example supports this idea, as the coin inset, a Series K, type 32a sceat struck in east Kent, should have mostly fallen out of circulation in England by this time. Accordingly, the weight could not have been used to validate only a particular series.
Coiled, serpent-like creatures were a common protective motif in pre-Christian artwork. This symbol was assimilated into Christianity as a representation of Christ