A RECENTLY discovered collection of medieval coins that pre-date the signing of the Magna Carta has been donated to Coventry’s Herbert Art Gallery & Museum.
Twelve silver pennies, which have been dated between AD 1180 and 1210, were unearthed by metal detectorists operating as part of the Portable Antiquities Scheme, and will be showcased at the museum.
It has been estimated that the collection was buried or lost around the year 1210, five years before the Magna Carta was signed by King John.
The finders met with Ali Wells, Curator of Natural Sciences and Human History at the museum, to hand over their treasure, which will soon go on display to the public in memory of the landowner of the site where it was found.
She said: “We are delighted to accept this donation, especially as I know the Herbert means so much to the finders.
“The silver pennies originated during reign of the Plantagenet’s and feature the style of the ‘short cross’ pennies first issued by Henry II in 1180, but also span the reigns of his two sons Richard I – the lion heart (1189-99) and John (1199-1216).
“We have very few coins from before AD 1247 so these fill several gaps in our collection, including adding new rulers to the collection.
“The hoard was most likely originally contained within an organic bag or leather purse which has since rotted away, while modern ploughing has disturbed their resting place, spreading them across the field before being recovered by detectorists in two groups on separate days.
“After they have been catalogued and displayed, the coins will then be accessible to enquirers and researchers adding to the wealth of information and historical artefacts held within the museum’s permanent archaeological collection, and available to view on www.coventrycollections.org.”
The coins were originally reported under the Treasure Act, but The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum was able to acquire the collection after it was disclaimed and later donated by the founders in memory of the landowner of the site where the search occurred, Mr Hawkes.
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 12 coins found by the detectorists corresponds with a shilling (12 pence) in the period, which would be equal to around five 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.”
For more information visit www.theherbert.org