Harald Hardråde's coinage
||Gereitha, Geirfinn and Ulf|
A Norwegian penny standard of ca. 0.90 g was established under the reign of Harald Hardråde (the Ruthless). The penny standard, based on the old Norwegian mark weight of approximately 214 g, decreed 240 pennies to the mark.
After a period of service for the Byzantine emperor, Harald was back in Scandinavia as sole king of Norway from 1047. Throughout his reign he minted pennies of one main type with the triquetra on the obverse.
King Harald's mint sites were Nidarnes and Hamar. By tracing the development of this coinage, we can detect a deliberate degrading of the silver content. From adherence to the international standard of 90% silver, it sank steadily and intentionally to an average of just over 30%.
The addition of copper to the coin metal met with resistance, as shown by an incident in Morkinnskinna's version of the saga of Harald Hardråde. The story describes how the Icelander Halldor Snorresson, a member of the king's personal troops, spurned these coins, flinging them aside in contempt. Nevertheless, coin finds indicate that these coins were used and hoarded all around the country. Foreign coins - Anglo-Saxon and German pennies in particular - which dominate Norwegian hoards until the early reign of King Harald Hardråde, disappeared from circulating coinage in Norway. The Norwegian king's own coins had become the dominant currency.