Divina Moneta: Coins in Religion and Ritual, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Divina Moneta

Coins in Religion and Ritual, 1st Edition

Edited by Nanouschka Myrberg Burström, Gitte Tarnow Ingvardson


258 pages | 96 Color Illus.

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pub: 2017-11-21
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This edited collection analyses the phenomenon of coin use for religious and ritual purposes in different cultures and across different periods of time. It proposes an engagement with the theory and interpretation of the ‘material turn’ with numismatic evidence, and an evidence-based series of discussions to offer a fuller, richer and fresh account of coin use in ritual contexts. No extensive publication has previously foregrounded coins in such a model, despite the fact that coins constitute an integrated part of the material culture of most societies today and of many in the past. Here, interdisciplinary discussions are organised around three themes: coin deposit and ritual practice, the coin as economic object and divine mediator, and the value and meaning of coin offering. Although focusing on the medieval period in Western Europe, the book includes instructive cases from the Roman period until today. The collection brings together well-established and emerging scholars from archaeology, art history, ethnology, history and numismatics, and great weight is given to material evidence which can complement and contradict the scarce written sources.


'… essential reading for all those interested in how coins are actually used by people in their daily lives' - David Yoon, American Numismatic Society (ANS Magazine, 4/2018, pp. 66-7).

Table of Contents

Introduction: Faith and Ritual Materialised: Coin Finds in Religious Contexts

[Nanouschka Myrberg Burström]

Part I: Money in Rituals and Practice

1. Death by Deposition?: Coins and Ritual in the Late Iron Age and Early Roman Transition in Northern Gaul

[David Wigg-Wolf]

2. The Impact of Coinage on Ritual Offerings During the Late Iron Age (c. 250–25/15 BC)

[Michael Nick]

3. Coins and Baptism in Late Antiquity: Written Sources and Numismatic Evidence Reconsidered

[Claudia Perassi]

4. Pilgrims, Pennies and the Ploughzone: Folded Coins in Medieval Britain

[Richard Kelleher]

5. Why Money Does Grow on Trees: The British Coin-Tree Custom

[Ceri Houlbrook]

Part II: Coins as Secular and Sacred Objects

6. Coins as Non-Coins: The Use and Meaning of Roman Coins in Religious Contexts Outside the Empire

[Helle W. Horsnæs]

7. Firmly I Believe and Truly: Religious Iconography on Early Anglo-Saxon Coins

[Anna Gannon]

8. Pecuniary Profanities?: Money, Christianity and Demonstrative Giving in the Early Middle Ages

[Rory Naismith]

9. Coins and the Church in Medieval England: Votive and Economic Functions of Money in Religious Contexts

[Martin Allen]

10. Sacra Moneta: Divinity, Purity, Miracles and Powers

[Lucia Travaini]

Part III: The Value and Worth of Offering

11. Worthless?: The Practice of Depositing Counterfeit Coins in Roman Votive Contexts

[Fleur Kemmers]

12. Scandinavian Women in Search of Salvation: Women’s Use of Money in Religion and Devotional Practice

[Svein H. Gullbekk]

13. A Cheap Salvation?: Post-Reformation Offerings in Finnish Churches

[Frida Ehrnsten]

[Front cover background image: Laon Cathedral, late twelfth/early thirteenth century. Image: Giles E. M. Gasper]

About the Editors

Nanouschka Myrberg Burström is Reader in Archaeology in the Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies at Stockholm University.

Gitte Tarnow Ingvardson is Curator of the Coin Cabinet at the Historical Museum, Lund University, and a PhD fellow at the Bornholm Museum and Copenhagen University.

About the Series

Religion and Money in the Middle Ages

The series explores the connections between two of the most dominant aspects of medieval society and culture: religion and money. Both are ubiquitous throughout the Middle Ages, and both are expressed through a wide variety of media, from the textual to the material. In this light, the series recognises the importance of multi-disciplinary perspectives, and welcomes joint as well as individual authorship and editorship. All disciplinary perspectives are welcome, particularly from archaeology, history (social, ecclesiastical, intellectual and economic), theology, anthropology and numismatics. The series operates with a broad chronological range, in western European terms from late Antiquity to the Reformation. While the geographical and cultural focus lies in western Christendom, the series will be open to cross-cultural comparative studies, and to treatments of money and religion in all religious communities within the period, within Christendom and without.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Medieval