I was asked recently about units of weight were used in Anglo Saxon and Danish Britain, and in particular in York, so I thought I'd give it a shot. I have already done a more general page on weights and measurements in the Middle Ages here. The following are rough.
The problem is that there are so many different variations of what are considered "correct", going from source to source, it's hard to determine what should be the actual weights, trying to work downword. For example, a Norse "Mark" is given as 203 grams, 226.8 grams
OTOH, I noticed that in general, silver pennies from the period of Pepin the Short, through Offa and Coenwulf and even William of Normandy seem to be about 1.3 grams (although there is some variation with at least one from 1066 weighing in at more than 1.4 grams). This would suggest that:
|1 Grain (Barleycorn)||=||=||=||=||=||=||0.054 Grams|
|24 Grains||=||1 Pennyweight||=||=||=||=||=||1.3 Grams|
|384 Grains||=||16 Pennyweight||=||1 Ore||=||1 Ounce||=||=||=||20.8 Grams|
|2304 Grains||=||128 Pennyweight||8 Ora||8 Ounces||=||1 Mark||=||=||166.4 Grams|
|5760 Grains||=||240 Pennyweight||=||15 Ora||=||12 Ounce||=||1.5 Marks||=||1 Pound||=||312 Grams|
Comparing this to measures found at archaeological sites (which may not be perfectly accurate because of chemical alterations during burial, not to mention coming from unsubstantiated websites)
284 Grams = 218.46 Pennyweight or 13.6 Ora.
226 Grams = 173.85 Pennyweight, 1 Mark or 10.865 Ora.
70.5 Grams = 54.23 Pennyweight, or 3.39 Ora.
819 Grams = 630 Pennyweight, or 39.38 Ora.
57.25 Grams = 44.04 Pennyweight, or 2.75 Ora.
32.65 Grams = 25.12 Pennyweight, or 1.57 Ora.
32.4 Grams = 24.92 Pennyweight, or 1.56 Ora.
24.38 Grams = 18.75 Pennyweight, or 1.17 Ora.
Riazan, near Moscow (11th century)
144.3 Grams = 111 Pennyweight, or 6.94 Ora.
56.167 Grams = 43.21 Pennyweight, or 2.7 Ora.
39.808 Grams = 30.62 Pennyweight, or 1.91 Ora.
39.429 Grams = 30.33 Pennyweight, or 1.9 Ora.
31.177 Grams = 23.98 Pennyweight, or 1.5 Ora.
Which looks like the weights were likely in some version of an Ora, say at increments of 1, 1.5, 2, 3, etc.
Is this perfectly right? I have no idea.
Other things to muddy the issue:
A Danish Pund, established in 1683 and used until 1607 was 499.75 grams
In Norway, before 1683, the Pund was 466.65 grams, the Merke was 218.7 grams, the ort was .9735 grams.
In Sweden there were a variety of local measures before the country standardized things in 1665, which lasted more or less until 1855, and the Metric system being adopted in 1889. The ort was 4.2508 gram The Mark was 212.5 grams, although in the Viking era it may have been as little as 203 grams. The Skalpund was 423 grams
Anglo-Saxon measurement (More or less, for comparison)
|1 Grain (Barleycorn)||=||=||=||=||=||=||.0648 Grams|
|24 Grains||=||1 Pennyweight||=||=||=||=||=||1.552 Grams|
|288||=||12 Pennyweight||=||1 Shilling||=||=||=||=||18.66 Grams|
|384||=||16 Pennyweight||=||=||1 Ore||=||=||=||24.88 Grams|
|480 Grains||=||20 Pennyweight||=||=||=||1 Ounce||=||=||31.104 Grams|
|5760 Grains||=||240 Pennyweight||=||20 Shillings||=||15 Ora||=||12 Ounce||=||1 Pound||=||373.25 Grams|
This page was created by Marc Carlson
It was last edited 2 March 2005