World of Coins

Medieval and cash coins => Christian world => Topic started by: FosseWay on August 28, 2019, 06:01:19 PM

Title: Large hoard of 11th century pennies found in Somerset
Post by: FosseWay on August 28, 2019, 06:01:19 PM
I don't think anyone else has posted this yet - BBC article (

It appears to include roughly equal numbers of coins from Harold II and William I. I don't know whether "Harold" is sloppy journalism for "pre-Conquest"; it would seem slightly odd that the pre-Conquest part only consisted of brand-new pennies and none from the very recently ended reign of Edward the Confessor.

I also found the bit about the mules interesting. I had no idea that Harold/William mules existed.

Coinage in general has often functioned as a political megaphone, to get one lot's message over to the masses when there is regime change. Usually when coinage changes in such circumstances there is an impetus on the part of the new rulers to get rid of symbols of the previous ruler. Is anything known about the persistence of pre-Conquest coinage in use after 1066? My instinctive reaction would be that it would have been recalled, melted and recoined very quickly, but perhaps either the logistics didn't allow that or the Normans just didn't think along those lines.

(link corrected)
Title: Re: Large hoard of 11th century pennies found in Somerset
Post by: THCoins on August 28, 2019, 08:03:16 PM
Saw the news some days ago. Seems like a significant find that indeed deserves to get the headlines.
I know more about Eastern than Western coinage. But i think new rulers everywhere had to take into account that the public has to trust a new coinage. And people have proved to be very conservative in this, they have an idea what coins should look like. So getting rid of old, well known, symbols to quickly in general may not be such a good idea ?
Title: Re: Large hoard of 11th century pennies found in Somerset
Post by: FosseWay on August 28, 2019, 08:26:45 PM
We do know that William admired the Anglo-Saxon coinage system and that it was particularly reliable and of uniform fineness compared to some continental issues. So retaining the basic system was indeed an obvious choice. I suppose given the text on the coins was only relevant to the tiny minority of the population who could read and the portraits were in no way a physical likeness of the monarch, it probably didn't matter.

Which leaves the question of whether the Anglo-Saxon half of the hoard is indeed entirely made up of Harold coins. I thought they were extremely rare; even under normal circumstances, when the monarch changes it takes some years before the new monarch's coins make up the bulk of what is being used unless something causes the specifications to change, and 1066 was far from normal circumstances.
Title: Re: Large hoard of 11th century pennies found in Somerset
Post by: Figleaf on August 29, 2019, 11:02:45 AM
Sloppy journalism indeed. Look at the last picture. The coin on the extreme left is in the name of Edward. The one in the centre says William and the rest is in the name of Harold.

The explanation of using up the old dies sounds good to me. Mint masters would have had unused dies at hand when they were told there was a new king. The dies with titles were unusable, but others could be used until worn as a cost-cutting measure. After all, minting was farmed out, so an unexpected succession was a cost to the mint master.

The tax saving story sounds unlikely to me. Medieval tax collectors would see right through such a transparent scheme and act ruthlessly.