Ancient coins lost hundreds of years ago in Shropshire 'would have bought a goose and some candles'

Ancient coins found in Shropshire in two separate hoards have been declared treasure by a coroner.

Two Medieval silver groats of Edward III (AD 1327-1377) found in July 2020. Pictures: Birmingham Museums Trust on behalf of the Portable Antiquities Scheme
Two Medieval silver groats of Edward III (AD 1327-1377) found in July 2020. Pictures: Birmingham Museums Trust on behalf of the Portable Antiquities Scheme

Shropshire Museums says it will aim to raise the as yet undisclosed amount of money needed to buy them and keep them on display in Shrewsbury.

One of the hoards, two 700-year-old silver groats from Edward III's reign in 1356-61, was considered by experts to have been a suspected loss from a purse.

Curator Emma-Kate Lanyon, for Shropshire Musuems, said: “These two groats were probably lost when someone dropped a purse almost 700 years ago.

"It is hard to quantify what this loss amounted to but, in the mid 14th century, two groats would have bought you a goose - around 6d - a couple of tallow candles - 1 1/2d each.”

These would be the first groats of Edward III to be added to Shropshire Museums’ collection of coins if the service can secure grants and donation to purchase them. Shropshire Museums hope to display the coins at Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery.

Two even older rare 1,000 year-old silver coins from the reign of Edward the Confessor were also declared treasure at an inquest on Tuesday.

Coins from the reign of Edward the Confessor. Pictures: Birmingham Museums Trust on behalf of the Portable Antiquities Scheme

Shropshire senior coroner John Ellery was told that the two silver pennies dated 1044-1046 were from Edward the Confessor's time. They were found by Stephen Lewis, a metal detectorist who was out in the Knockin area on February 3, 2019.

Mr Ellery was told that one of the coins was probably minted in Colchester, and the other was probably made in Chester.

Emma-Kate Lanyon, curator at Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery, said: “We know very little about the history of Knockin in the mid-ninth century.

“The village is not mentioned in the Domesday Survey of 1086, but a castle was built here in c1160 when it was known as 'Cnukyn' - from the Celtic word for a small hillock.

"Finds like this one are helping us better understand the early medieval history of the county and establish a clearer picture of his turbulent period.”

Coins of this period are comparatively rare, making this an important find for the county, she added.

The reverse inscriptions on both coins are only partially legible. On one, the reverse clearly shows a Colchester mint signature, but only the letter R is visible close to the beginning of the moneyer’s name.

Comparison with other examples suggests that the moneyer Brunhyse is the most likely.

On the other coin the mint is illegible, but the moneyer’s name is clearly visible as Brunning (BRVNINC). This moneyer’s name is recorded at several mints, but the style of the obverse bust is very close to other recorded examples from Chester.

Chester would also be a likely source for a coin found in north Shropshire, although, as shown by the Colchester coin, there was national circulation across the whole of England in this period.

Shropshire Museums hope to acquire these coins for display at Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery, subject to securing the necessary grant aid and donations.

Dr Susie White, the finds liaison officer from North Wales, and Dr Gareth Williams, the curator of early medieval coins at the British Museum, said that coins from the Confessor's time are "comparatively rare". They have a high silver content, with even poorer examples having more than 10 per cent silver.

They said because of their age, high silver content and the fact they were found together made them treasure and Mr Ellery agreed. They showed that coins minted in different parts of the country were part of a national system of coin circulation.

The two medieval silver groats from the reign of Edward III, dating to AD 1356-1361 and minted in London, had also been found by a responsible metal detectorist. Bob Greenaway who had been out in Hordley in July 2020, close to another treasure find in 2020.

Dr Susheela Burford, the finds liaison officer for Warwickshire and Worcestershire, said: "These two coins together and of the same date represent a suspected purse loss.

"The age and grouping of these coins as two or more coins together of 10 per cent precious metal, meet the criteria for treasure under the terms of the Treasure Act 1996."

Dr Burford said: "Every year members of the public, through hobbies like metal detecting, field walking and even digging in their own gardens, discover items of archaeological and historical interest.

"The sites they search are done so with the landowner’s permission and all such finds add to our archaeological knowledge of the region.

"Some of these, like the ones declared today, are classified as Treasure. These items will hopefully be acquired by Shropshire Museums to enhance their collection and continue to be representative of the archaeological record of the county."

Neither of the coin hoards had a price associated with them at the inquest.

But now these finds have been declared treasure, they will be valued by a treasure valuation committee. Once a market value is set, Shropshire Museums will fund raise so that these finds can be saved for the people of the county for all to enjoy. The monies raised will then be evenly split between the finder and landowner as a reward.

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