Early Medieval – Weight

Finds from Wirral


A lovely little weight or gaming piece dated AD850-1100.
Portable Antiquities Scheme statement:
A lead weight or gaming piece dating from the early medieval period onwards (c.AD 850-1100).The object is domed with a flat base, flat sides and a domed top. It is undecorated and has a dark grey patina.Dimensions: Length 13.48mm; diameter 16.96mm; weight 26.9gThe exact function and date of the object is uncertain. Weights such as these that were found outside of archaeological contexts are difficult to date because their use and style remains continuous from the Roman period onwards. Biggs and Withers (2000: 30) note that standing weights made of lead were still used in comparatively recent times. This particular object may have an early medieval date. The predominant Viking Age systems of measurement for bullion is described in NLM-F17E5A as based on units of 4.07gms in Scandinavia, or 4.34gms Viking Dublin, and by extension the contemporary ‘kingdom’ of York. If interpreted as a weight, this object could represent roughly 6 of the Viking Dublin unit (see: Haldenby and Kershaw 2014).

Another possible function is a gaming piece. At Torksey (Lincs), the Viking camp/settlement, solid lead pieces were classed as weights and hollow examples as gaming pieces. It is thought the hollow shape allowed them to be stacked (Hadley and Richards 2016, p.48, note 79, fig. 26). Given the close dating to the Viking Dublin unit, it is less likely the object is a gaming piece.

Read the detailed and interesting assessment relating to its weight and possible use at the below link to the Portable Antiquities Scheme.