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Medieval Treasure donated to Herbert Art Gallery & Museum

​A recently discovered Medieval hoard of coins has been donated to the Herbert in memory of Mr Thompson by both the finders and family of the landowner.

The twelve silver pennies were discovered by responsible metal detectorists who have been recording their finds for many years with the Portable Antiquities Scheme.

The finders met with Ali Wells, (Curator of Natural Sciences and Human History) at the Museum to hand over their treasure so that they can go on public display at some point in the future. Whilst the coins may not always be on permanent display, they will always be accessible to enquirers and researchers adding to the wealth of information held within the museum’s permanent archaeological collection.

Ms Wells said ‘We are delighted to accept this donation, especially as I know the Herbert means so much to the finders. The Herbert usually only collects within the City of Coventry boundary, but we already have some archaeological material from nearby Ryton. We have very few coins from before AD 1247 so these fill several gaps in our collection, including adding new rulers to the collection. Once catalogued they will be available to view on www.coventrycollections.org.

The hoard was probably originally contained within an organic bag / leather purse which has since rotted away. They were recovered by the detectorists in two groups on separate days as modern ploughing had disturbed their resting place spreading them across the field. All twelve of the coins are made of silver and have a broadly similar condition. The coins date from the reign of the Plantagenet’s and the style of the ‘short cross’ pennies first issued by Henry II in AD 1180. The hoard itself contains coins struck the reign of Henry II (AD 1154-89) as well as his two sons Richard I - the lion heart (AD 1189-99) and John (AD 1199-1216). It was buried or lost during the reign of John most probably around the year c. AD 1210. During this period coins were made by silver discs being struck between two dies one face showing the kings head and the other a small cross. The names of the moneyer (the person in charge of the dies) and the mint where it was made are stamped into the reverse, within this group the coins were struck in London, Canterbury, and York as well as Lincoln, Winchester and Northampton.

Victoria Allnatt (Finds Liaison Officer for West Staffordshire & South West Midlands) said: We are thrilled that these coins are being donated by the finders as a memorial to the landowner. When detectorists record their finds with the Portable Antiquities Scheme it enables us to understand more about the local heritage and the people who once inhabited it. The coins can tell us something about a local community working in the landscape and will help enrich the collections of the Herbert Museum & Art Gallery and can enjoyed by many visitors for years to come. The twelve coins found by the detectorists corresponds with a shilling (12 pence) in the period. This would be equal to around a week (5 days) pay for a skilled tradesman and almost two weeks wages for a farm worker, so it probably represents hard made savings stashed safely away for times of trouble.

The coins were originally reported under the treasure Act (1996) but have been disclaimed allowing for the museum to acquire the coins – in memory of Mr Thompson at no cost.

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