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Silver Hoards in History: Romans & Vikings Buried Their Investment Silver

July 06, 2012349 view(s)

Historians are always on the lookout for interesting stories that catch the attention of audiences worldwide.

The latest tale of a silver hoard uncovered in Jersey, a British Crown Dependency off the coast of Normandy, France, has recently raised attention. It appears that during Roman times, as Julius Caesar began his conquest of northern France, the Celts decided to set investment silver aside for themselves by burying it on the island of Jersey.

The multitude of coins uncovered during the excavation of this latest find took a large crane to lift them from the earth. Archaeological experts believe approximately 40,000 silver coins have been hidden for about 2,000 years, kept safe from the elements in a pit composed primarily of clay.

This latest find of silver is not the first to be made on the particular member of the Channel Islands, but where exactly the excavation took place is not being told to the press in order to discourage potential thieves. Burying investment silver is a popular practice; the Vikings did this as well.

"If anybody wanted a more concrete demonstration of silver as a preserver of wealth they should look no further than this discovery," a columnist at Silver Seek wrote of the recent discovery in Jersey. "Two millennia after the original depositors have left this earth their bounty has been paid up."

In all, the discovery in Jersey took a pair of amateur metal detectors three decades to uncover silver coins valued at $15 million.

Other Historical Hoards of Silver

Other noteworthy discoveries of silver treasure have not just contained coins, however. Instead, the Viking hoard contained silver ingots, hacksilver which is similar to today's bullion, and even different types of jewelry. The Vikings were famed plunderers; this particular silver cache contained 8,500 unique pieces.

Cuerdale Hoard found one of the major discoveries of silver treasure in Lancashure, England in the mid 1800’s. The coins of the Cuerdale horde fascinate coin collectors because they come from such widely disparate sources. Not only are their silver coins minted by Viking kingdoms in Scandinavia, but there are also similar coins minted by Carolingian, Holy Roman Imperial, Islamic, Northern Italian and even Byzantine authorities.

That makes these coins not just valuable for the silver they contain; it makes them crucial pieces of history which can tell us about the governments represented, as well as the habits of Viking raiders.

It is believed that the Cuerdale horde was buried about nine centuries after the recent cache located in Jersey, around 900 A.D. Not all experts agree with this theory, however, due to the fact that the treasure was found in a box made of lead, the items neatly bagged for storage.

Some believe that the treasure could have been compiled by an unpopular ethnic or political grouping of individuals who were simply unable to recover it later or who did not want their treasure to fall into the hands of their enemies.

What these hoards point out to us today is that the beauty of precious metals is their ability to withstand time and the elements with minimum care. Even when buried for thousands of years, they can be recovered and used in a different form as long as they are melted down. No other type of asset on Earth, short of gems, can boast this property.

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