chapter  2
Gotland
The silver island
WithJacek Gruszczyński
Pages 63

The chapter defines the geographic extent of the case study and provides the rationale for choosing it. It affords a detailed review of the relevant written sources and sets out the historic and social context of the analysed hoarding patterns in the Viking Age. The author undertakes spatial analyses through which the statistically significant concentrations of hoards are identified and reviewed in the context of nearby contemporary archaeological sites, topography, historical background and written sources. Factors which may be responsible for the observed hoard concentrations are identified and interrogated using regression modelling, which allows one to determine what combination of these factors can best explain the observed spatial patterns of hoard deposition. The combined analyses highlight the association of hoards with sites and regions which could have facilitated the influx of silver and provided conditions suitable for mercantile exchange. But they fail to explain why silver was put in the ground and, more importantly, why it was never reclaimed. In this chapter the author introduces a method which uses the information about the presence or absence of a container, cross-referenced with the weight of silver and the archaeological context, to provide an indication as to whether particular hoards were deposited with the aim of retrieval (as savings or emergency hoards) or whether they were meant to be permanent ritual or symbolic offerings.