The Runic Archives
The University’s Coin Cabinet was established in 1817, after over 6 000 ancient coins had been purchased from the royal collection in Copenhagen on the initiative of Georg Sverdrup, a signer of the Norwegian Constitution and a professor of Greek.
During the period of leadership of the cabinet’s second director, C. A. Holmboe, from 1830 to 1876, the collection increased from 9 000 objects to over 43 000. During this period, the museum acquired several of Norway’s largest Viking and Early Middle Ages hoards, including the Dæli hoard and the Årstad hoard. Since the 1920s, finds, donations and purchases have added to the collection. Among the most important collections that have been acquired are Fridtjof Nansen’s and Roald Amundsen’s collections of medals and decorations, and Frederik Schjöth’s collection of Chinese coins.
Today the collection consists of over a quarter of a million objects from all corners of the world and all historical periods. The most important of these are the 20 000 Greek and Roman coins, over 5 000 European coins from the Viking Age, and well over 20 000 Norwegian Viking Age and medieval coins from hoards and finds made under Norwegian church floors. The museum also houses internationally noteworthy collections of Norwegian and European coins from more modern times, paper money, and medals and decorations from all over the world.