Historians wonder how 118 coins minted during the Carolingian Empire, a Frankish dynasty that ruled what is now much of France, Germany, and Italy in the period AD 750-887 , managed to find their way to Poland.
Ostróda Museum / Wolfman / Creative Commons License

Historians are testing a collection of 9th-century French coins found in a cornfield in northern Poland to see if they could be part of the ransom paid by Paris to the Vikings during the city’s famous siege in 845.

The discovery was made last year when a few coins were discovered by Przemysław Witkowski, a metal detector from Biskupiec in the province of Warmia and Mazury.

More French coins were discovered in March of this year, bringing the total to 118 coins minted during the Carolingian Empire, a Frankish dynasty that ruled over what is now much of France, Germany. and Italy during the period AD 750-887.

Łukasz Szczepanski of the Ostróda Museum believes the 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.Ostroda Museum

This is the first time that Carolingian denars have been discovered in Poland. So far, archaeologists have found only unique pieces.

Historians now wonder why these coins managed to find their way to Poland, as in the 9e century, it was a region inhabited by pagan Prussians.

Łukasz Szczepanski of the Ostróda Museum believes the 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.

The siege of Paris in 845 was the culmination of a Viking invasion of West Francia. The Vikings plunder and occupy the city, then withdraw after receiving a ransom of 2,570 kg of silver and gold from Charles the Bald.Public domain

The proof, he says, is the presence of a Viking trading post in Truso, 65 km from Biskupiec.

Speaking in The New York Times, he said: “This is an extremely rare and surprising find […] Previously we only knew what happened in Paris from written sources, but now all of a sudden we have it in physical form. “

To test the theory, the pieces were sent for chemical analysis to experts at the Polish Academy of Sciences.

The evidence that the coins may have been part of the ransom comes from the presence of a Viking trading post in Truso, 65 km from Biskupiec.GEO ARCHEO SERVICE FABIAN WELC

Other work is also underway at the site where the pieces were discovered.

More coins would bolster the ransom theory as well as silver bars, as Paris defender Charles the Bald reportedly paid the Vikings more than two tons of silver.

The work can only take place later when the farmer who owns the field has harvested his corn crop.

Ostroda Museum

This is the first time that Carolingian denars have been discovered in Poland. So far, archaeologists have found only unique pieces.Ostroda Museum

The siege of Paris in 845 was the culmination of a Viking invasion of West Francia. The Vikings plunder and occupy the city, then withdraw after receiving a ransom of 2,570 kg of silver and gold from Charles the Bald.

Łukasz Szczepańśki noted that the discovery is only the beginning of many years of additional research.

To learn more about the Vikings in Poland, click on HERE.

And HERE.


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