Could coins found in Polish field come from Viking siege of Paris?
Historians are testing a collection of ninth-century French coins found in a corn field in northern Poland to see if they could be part of the ransom paid by Paris to Vikings during the famous siege of the city in 845.
The find was made last year when just a few coins were discovered by Przemysław Witkowski, a metal detectorist from Biskupiec in the Warmia and Mazury province.
More of the French coins were discovered in March this year bringing the total to 118 coins minted during the Carolingian Empire, a Frankish dynasty who ruled over what is today much of France, Germany and Italy in the period 750–887 AD.
This is the first time Carolingian denars have been found in Poland. So far, archaeologists have found only single coins.
Historians are now wondering why these coins managed to find their way to Poland, as in the 9th century it was an area inhabited by pagan Prussians.
Łukasz Szczepanski from the Ostróda Museum believes that Vikings could have brought the treasure to the area after receiving it as part of the ransom they received to abandon their attack on the French capital when they besieged it in 845.
Evidence for this, he says, comes from the presence of a Viking trading post at Truso 65 km from Biskupiec.
Speaking in the New York Times, he said: “This is an exceedingly rare and surprising find […] We previously only knew what happened in Paris from written sources, but now, suddenly, we have it in a physical form.”
To test the theory, the coins have been sent for chemical analysis to experts from the Polish Academy of Sciences.
Further work is also underway at the site where the coins were discovered.
More coins would strengthen the ransom theory as well as silver ingots as defender of Paris Charles the Bald is said to have paid the Vikings over two tons of silver.
The work can only take place later when the farmer who owns the field has harvested his corn crop.
The siege of Paris of 845 was the culmination of a Viking invasion of West Francia. The Vikings plundered and occupied the city, then withdrew when they had been paid a ransom of 2,570 kg of silver and gold from Charles the Bald.
Łukasz Szczepańśki noted that the discovery is just the start of many years of further research.
To read more about Vikings in Poland click HERE.