Coins in the church – a European perspective

In cooperation with Swiss colleagues we invite to a European conference on coins and coin finds in churches. The purpose is to merge Scandinavian research with research in the Continental tradition, especially for the Alpine Region where the finds from church excavations are en par with the Scandinavian.

Münzkabinett, Winterthur

Coins in the church – a European perspective: Liturgy, economic practice and devotional use of money

The devotional practices of money-­‐offerings and coin use were universal within the Latin West with documentary evidence providing evidence from the ancient church to the Middle Ages and early modern Europe. This documentary evidence is, however, scattered in a range of sources from saints lives, accounts, sagas, and diplomas.

The material evidence for devotional coin practices on the other side is reflected by more than one hundred thousand coins from the medieval period and the Early Modern period. These coin finds are all found inside the church within the archeological context..

Within the Latin West the material evidence from churches is particulary numerous within two regions: Central Europe notably Switzerland and Scandinavia. The reason for this is simple; in these regions churches were partly or fully built with wooden floors – and there has been, for decades, a professional medieval and early-modern archaeology dealing with these churches., These regions provide a laboratory for research and new insights into the practice of and thinking about money and church; they allow study of devotional and religious practice from the perspective of both the Church on an institutional level and the individual parishioner.

With these sources combined, we can try to shape a «theology of economics», the material sources give us insights to the «economics of theology». With the material inside the church, ritual and secular contexts are described; between churches networks and communication areas are expressed by the use of coins in different circulation patterns.The impact of the Reformation on these mechanisms  can be studied especially in those regions where catholic and protestant churches are found in close proximity from the 16th century onwards.



  • Materiality
  • Archaeology
  • Use of coins
  • European perspective I - Switzerland and Scandinavia
  • European perspective II - Germany, Austria, Italy
  • General discussion




  • Religion and Money: The Economy of Salvation Project (Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo and Norwegian Research Council)
  • Schweizerische Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Fundmünzen SAF / Groupe Suisse d'étude des trouvailles monétaires GSETM
  • Münzkabinett und Antikensammlung der Stadt Winterthur
  • Inventar der Fundmünzen der Schweiz IFS / Inventaire des trouvailles monétaires Suisses ITMS
  • Schweizerische Numismatische Gesellschaft SNG / Société Suisse de Numismatique SSN



By Svein
Published Nov. 26, 2016 11:27 AM - Last modified Mar. 24, 2020 3:20 PM