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Coins and Kings in Anglo-Saxon England

7th century ‘Helena’ type Anglo-Saxon gold solidus, found at Chapel Hill, Caistor-by-Norwich, Norfolk (Copyright: Trustees of the British Museum).

Unfortunately this study day is cancelled due to illness of the speaker - we will try and re-schedule it for another day.

with Dr Gareth Williams

in The Old Court, Sutton Hoo (map)
on Saturday July 7th 2012

This study-day will cover the history of coinage in Anglo-Saxon England, from the end of Roman Britain to 1066. Each lecture will include an overview of developments across England as a whole, together with specific discussion of how these developments affected East Anglia in particular. The coins will be considered in their monetary context, but also as public expressions of royal authority and political, religious and cultural identity, and as historical texts which throw light on our wider understanding of the Anglo-Saxon period.

Provisional Programme
  10.00 Coffee on arrival  
  10.15 Coins in the Age of Sutton Hoo
This lecture will cover the use of imported coins in post-Roman Britain and the introduction and spread of native Anglo-Saxon coinage at the end of the 6th century, down to the end of the gold coinage in the late 7th century. The lecture will consider both the monetary and symbolic functions of coinage, and the correlation between minting coins and a particular model of Romanised Christian kingship.
  11.15 Coffee  
  11.45 Coins of the early Anglo-Saxon kingdoms
This lecture covers the period from the late 7th century to the late 9th, in which coins were issued by the rulers of a number of different kingdoms. This period spans the transition from anonymous coins, which can only be attributed on the basis of the distribution patterns of modern finds, to explicitly regal coinage. The lecture considers how this change reflects Continental contacts, and also how minting in East Anglia reflects both the Mercian over-kingship and the re-emergence of East Anglian independence. The lecture concludes with the escalation of Viking raiding in the 860s, leading to the conquest of three out of the four main Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, and the end of minting in those kingdoms.
  12.45 Lunch break (bring picnic or eat in NT restaurant)  
  14:00 Coins and currency of the Vikings in England
The Vikings in England assimilated quickly with many aspects of Anglo-Saxon society, including the adoption of both Christianity and coinage. Although some Viking coins are simply crude imitations of the coinage of Alfred and Wessex, others reflect the identities of the Anglo-Scandinavian kingdoms of East Anglia and Northumbria. The coins of Viking East Anglia also provide the earliest evidence for the development of the cult of St Edmund. In addition, this lecture will consider the other types of silver economy found within Anglo-Scandinavian England.
  15:00 Tea break  
  15:15 Coinage in late Anglo-Saxon England
The concluding lecture looks at the unification of England in the 10th century under the house of Wessex, and the move towards a national coinage. The lecture will consider how far there really was a single national model for the expression of royal authority (including coinage), and how far the West Saxon model had to be adapted to accommodate existing differences in formerly independent kingdoms such as East Anglia. The lecture will also discuss how coins and hoards reveal a more complicated process of unification than the ‘official’ account of the West Saxon court suggests, together with the issues of continuity and change in the coinage in the final decades of Anglo-Saxon England.
  c.16:20 Close  

About Dr Gareth Williams

Dr Gareth Williams studied history at the universities of St Andrews and Bergen, and has been Curator of Early Medieval Coins at the British Museum since 1996. He also holds the honorary position of Director of History at Tutbury Castle in Staffordshire, where he led an interdisciplinary research project into the history and archaeology of the castle between 2002 and 2011, the results of which were published as a research monograph in 2011 by British Archaeological Reports. He has published extensively on early medieval history, archaeology and numismatics, with particular emphasis on coinage, silver economies, hoarding, and warfare and military organisation. Books for non-specialists include Early Anglo-Saxon Coins (Shire 2008), The Vale of York Hoard (with Barry Ager, British Museum Press 2010), Eirik Bloodaxe (Saga Bok 2010) and Treasures from Sutton Hoo (British Museum Press 2011). Early Anglo-Saxon Coins was awarded the 2008 Lhotka Memorial Prize by the Royal Numismatic Society. Dr Williams is a regular guest lecturer for a number of universities and is also a specialist commentator for TV and radio, including the current BBC series The Great British Story, and the ITV series Britain’s Secret Treasures, to be shown in July.

Some suggestions for further reading
(useful but not essential)

Blackburn, M.A.S., Anglo-Saxon Monetary History, Continuum 1986
Blackburn, M.A.S., Viking Coinage and Currency in the British Isles, British Numismatic Society/ Spink 2011.
Blunt, C.E., Stewart, B.H.I.H., and Lyon, C.S.S., Coinage in Tenth-Century England, from Edward the Elder to Edgar’s reform, Oxford University Press, 1989
Gannon, A., The Iconography of Early Anglo-Saxon Coinage: Sixth to Eighth Centuries, Oxford University Press 2004
Metcalf, D.M., Thrymsas and Sceattas in the Ashmolean Museum Oxford (3 vols), Royal Numismatic Society/Spink, 1993-4.
Metcalf, D.M., An Atlas of Anglo-Saxon and Norman Coin Finds, c.973-1086, Royal Numismatic Society/Spink, 1998
Naismith, R., Money and Power in Anglo-Saxon England: The Southern English Kingdoms, 757-865, Cambridge University Press 2012
North, J.J., English Hammered Coinage, Vol. 1, Early Anglo-Saxon to Henry III, c. 600-1272, Spink 1994
Williams, G., Early Anglo-Saxon Coins, Shire Book 2008.

Useful Website
www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/dept/coins/emc is an important free online resource which provides a portal to two separate databases of early medieval coins, both hosted by the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. The Corpus of Early Medieval Coin Finds contains coins found in the British Isles, including many which are unpublished elsewhere, and which are not held in museum collections. The Sylloge of Coins of the British Isles is a cumulative publication of coins minted in Britain held in public and private collections. The two can be searched separately or together, and can be searched by a variety of fields including ruler, moneyer, mint and find-spot.


Please phone or email to check the availability of places. Study Days are 38 per person, which includes a full day of lectures, access to the NT site, parking, coffee and tea throughout the day, and access to the NT exhibition. Once you have reserved your place please send a cheque to confirm the booking. For your first booking please complete the application form to ensure that we have recorded your contact details correctly.

Wuffing Education,
4 Hilly Fields,
Woodbridge, Suffolk IP12 4DX
tel : 01394 386498

Email cliff AT wuffingeducation.co.uk
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Website www.wuffingeducation.co.uk

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