The Maine Penny
(Reproduction of The Goddard Coin)
The original Maine Penny, photo courtesy of the Maine State Museum.
The Maine penny, also referred to as the Goddard coin, is a Norwegian silver coin dating to the reign of Olaf Kyrre King of Norway (1067–1093 AD). It was discovered in Maine in 1957, but was misidentified as a British penny until 1978. This is not surprising as over 30,000 artefacts were recovered from the Goddard site, most of which were poorly documented at the time of discovery.
The Goddard site was an extensive archeological site at an old Native American settlement at Naskeag Point on Penobscot Bay in Brooklin, Maine. The dig has been dated to approximately 1180–1235 AD. The people living on Naskeag Point at that time are assumed to be ancestors of the modern-day Penobscot.
Tests from the University of Oslo confirm this date, determining that the coin itself had been minted between 1065 and 1080 AD)
While the date of the dig is around two hundred years after the last of the Vinland voyages described by Norse sagas, ( and the L'Anse aux Meadows site in Newfoundland ) it is well within the period during which the Norse lived in Greenland and could have multiple implications.
It could be evidence that he Norsemen from Greenland traveled further south than Newfoundland on their "Vinland voyage" (only an assumed 65 years separate the approximate carbon datings done on both L'Anse aux Meadows and the coins' minting - it might not be a stretch as carbon dating often doesn't yield pinpoint answers); it could imply a return visit by the Norsemen at a later date, or it could have simply traveled through trade routes. How the coin traveled to Maine is truly unknown and any narrative or explanation is based only on assumption.
My piece, compared with another of "Olaf Kyre coin'" to better show the design before corrosion.
The penny was found with a perforation, probably for use as a pendant. This area of the coin has since crumbled to dust from corrosion. For structural reasons, I have placed the perforation on my reproduction going lengthwise.
WOOD -- Butternut
CARVED -- Without power tools (using a whittling knife)
DESIGN -- Woodburned
SANDED -- 1,500 grit, by hand
FINISH -- Linseed Oil
YEAR -- 2017
Want to learn more about Norse art styles?
I've put together a 35-page paper giving a brief overview of this topic!