chapter  1
Introduction
WithJacek Gruszczyński
Pages 21

The chapter provides an introduction to concepts of the Viking world, the Baltic zone in the Viking Age, silver economies, hoards and hoarding. The research objectives and limitations of the study, as well the structure of the book, are outlined. A sketch of the wider historical context, often marginalised in the predominantly numismatic-oriented discussion on Viking-Age hoards, is followed by a concise discussion of the ways in which silver arrived in the Baltic zone in the Viking Age and how it may have been perceived and used by the contemporary societies. An overview of how a ‘hoard’ is defined in the literature is provided, and the definition followed in the book set out. Main interpretative frameworks in the research on hoards are summarised in three major themes partially dictated by the geopolitical background of the researchers: political, economic and ritual/symbolic. This review serves to illustrate that a single interpretation method applied to all silver deposits cannot explore the complexity and variety of the possible motives for their deposition, and that only detailed analysis of a hoard’s composition, location of the findspot, circumstances of discovery and relationship with other archaeological contexts and sites may allow for a reliable interpretation to be made. These assumptions underlie the analytical part of the book presented in Chapters 2–5.