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RNS Lecture, 16 Jan: Money and the Viking Great Army

Welcome to 2018! The Society lectures kick off in the new year on Tuesday 16th January at 6pm at the Warburg Institute. This lecture will be given by Andrew Woods of York Museums Trust on the title Money and the Viking Great Army: Interpreting the coinage from Torksey. This lecture is linked to the York Museums Trust exhibition on the Viking winter camp at Torksey (open from 18th May 2017), developed in collaboration with the University of York and the University of Sheffield. Society lectures are open to all and full information about the current lecture schedule can be found here.

Paper Abstract:

Dirham fragments recovered from the Torksey Viking winter camp. Image linked from Archaeology 2013.

Arriving in AD 865, the Viking ‘Great Army’ spent fifteen years campaigning in England. They moved around the various kingdoms, defeating many of the established kings and ultimately settling across much of Eastern England, an area that is often known as the Danelaw. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records the movements of the army, noting that each year they made camp in a different place during the winter months. The precise locations of these winter camps have proved elusive but recently metal-detecting has increased their archaeological visibility.

 This paper will consider the evidence from one such camp, Torksey in Lincolnshire. In AD 872/3, the Anglo-Saxon chronicle records that the Great Army spent the winter there. The site at Torksey has been extensively metal-detected over many years, producing a huge number and large range of objects which offer an insight into life within a Viking camp. These have been recorded as a part of multi-disciplinary project to better interpret the Great Army phenomenon. Objects have been plotted alongside extensive survey and limited excavation work.

 Torksey has produced over 300 early medieval coins, as well as many hundreds of other objects which allow a nuanced understanding of the numismatic material. The types of coinage – a mix of Arabic silver, Northumbrian copper and English pennies – mark the site as unusual. This paper will explore the relationships between these coinages, and how they can be understood within the broader assemblages from the site. It will be argued that they are likely to represent a single phase, a narrow window of intense activity. The manner in which coinage was used within the camp will also be discussed with the importance of exchange, metal-working and consumption assessed. Ultimately, the extent to which a number of different ‘economies’ can be detected at Torksey will be considered, with variety of practice stressed.

Happy New Year from the RNS – and some article samples for those January evenings!

2017 passes with some great RNS memories, including the fascinating medallist’s talk and Christmas party on 19th December, but also with sadder memories, and Society members no longer with us, including Robert Thompson, whose work with the library will be missed greatly, as he will be for his kindness and intellectual generosity. We look forward to 2018 and a programme of future talks and events. If you have any events coming up connected to numismatics, which you would like to advertise to Society members, please contact Rebecca Darley ( to have these posted on the website. 

2017 has also been a exciting year for the website, with various ‘back-stage’ changes, which in 2018 we hope to capitalise on to roll out increased benefits to members. The first of these, as part of the Society’s ongoing relationship with Jstor, is the provision of sample Numismatic Chronicle articles. These will be freely available online, without Jstor log-in. Each will consist of 3-5 important articles for each of the subject areas covered by the Numismatic Chronicle. Each one will be accompanied by a short introduction to that area of numismatics, made available on the website as a guide to non-specialists and a way of welcoming new and future Society members. These samples can be downloaded or read online, shared with friends and fellow numismatists and made available in classrooms or via personal websites (preferably via a link to the Society website!).

A Byzantine solidus of the emperor Arcadius (r. 395-408), struck in Rome.

If you have specific numismatic interests and have sometimes wondered about other regions or periods, these catalogues are a great way to start browsing, or, if you are new to the Society, a good chance to begin exploring the fabulous wealth of scholarship available via Jstor in older issues of the Chronicle. The first of these selections is now available for Byzantine and Aksumite numismatics, along with a new summary introduction. Updating of the article list associated with each of these subject areas is also on-going.

If you are not yet a member of the Society, but find these articles interesting, please consider joining for free online access to the Numismatic Chronicle via Jstor. The Numismatic Chronicle is the journal of the Society and one of the most respected journals of numismatic research. Membership of the Society automatically includes a copy of the Numismatic Chronicle, which will be sent to you annually. Over the past few years the Society has worked with Jstor to digitise and make available online back issues of the Numismatic Chronicle, from 1836 up to, currently, 2013. This incredible body of scholarship is now readily available electronically to students, lecturers and teachers, collectors and enthusiasts worldwide.

For members of institutions with a subscription to Jstor (most universities in the UK, growing numbers abroad, and increasing numbers of schools and public libraries) these articles are free to read and download. For other readers they are available for the cost of a Jstor membership and pay-per-article options will also be available in the near future. For Society members, access to the Numismatic Chronicle via Jstor is another benefit of your annual subscription. Currently this requires requesting log-in details. If you have any difficulty doing this, please do not hesitate to contact Rebecca Darley ( We are also looking carefully at ways to make this log-in process easier and quicker for members, so watch this space…

Happy New Year!

RNS Lecture on 19 Dec and Annual Christmas Party

The third Society lecture of 2017/18, and the last before the Christmas break, will be delivered by the most recently awarded medallist of the RNS, Dr Lutz Ilisch of the University of Tübingen. Drawing on his extensive and celebrated work on the coinage of medieval Islam, he will be speaking on the title European silver exports to Syria and a Crusader-Ayyubid condominial mint. The lecture will be delivered at 6pm on Tuesday 19th December at Spink & Son Ltd., 69 Southampton Row, London WC1B 4ET. All society meetings are open to all. Full information on the current lecture schedule can be found here.

This lecture accompanies the Society’s annual Christmas party. Please join us at Spink & Son Ltd for drinks and refreshments and a chance to catch up with old friends and meet new ones. This event is always an cheery and enjoyable end of the year. And finally, whether you are able to attend the Society lecture or not, may you have a very merry Christmas and an enjoyable and relaxing holiday period!

Email issues

Hopefully the last in a series of posts about the website changes! It has come to our attention that the email addresses ending have not been working since 2nd December. If you have tried to contact the RNS or Henry Lythe and John Morcom using these email addresses in the last ten days, many apologies. The email addresses are now working again, so please re-send any inquiries or messages to ensure that they are received. Sorry for any inconvenience!

Changes to the RNS Website

cropped-seal.jpgAs you may have noticed, the RNS website has recently changed its appearance. This is a result of updates to ensure its continued stability and usability, and to enable future improvements. The changes should not have affected the content of the website, though some hyperlinks may not work properly for the next week or so. If, from mid-December onwards, you spot any links which are broken, please do let Rebecca Darley know (

This change has also temporarily disabled the payment portals for donations and subscriptions. These should be back up and running by the end of the coming week, and in the meantime we apologise for any inconvenience this causes.

Other minor aspects of the website’s appearance may change over the next few days but posts will continue on the blog on a regular basis and you should still be able to find all the same information in the same places.

If you have any suggestions for how the website could better serve you as a member of the RNS in future, please also mail Rebecca with ideas!