order to qualify as a "hoard", a find of coins does not have to be a huge
collection of silver coins deposited in a copper kettle that was dug up
on a dark night. A hoard is a collection of coins buried in the ground
or hidden in some other way. It is difficult to give exact guidelines for
the number of coins required to constitute a hoard. Some numismatic scholars
have set the lower limit at five coins, others at three. It is obvious,
however, that sometimes two coins, or even just one ? a gold coin, for
example ? might have represented a treasure for the owner. In Norway, pouches
of leather and textiles, other pieces of cloth, chests and boxes of wood
or birch bark seem to have been common repositories for hoards.
Finding coins is usually an accidental event. For example, of the 187 Norwegian finds with coins minted before 1100, only 27, or one in seven, were found as a result of archaeological excavations. The remaining 160 accidental discoveries account for 98% of a total of nearly 11000 coins.
Coins found in different locations and in different types of settings provide numismatic scholars with particularly important material. The importance of such coin finds is reflected in the legislation ensuring that such finds are preserved for use in research, popular education and other museum activities.