This hoard of 5,248 silver pennies, found at Lenborough, Buckinghamshire, in December 2014, is the largest Saxon coin hoard to be recorded in Britain in more than 150 years. Anglo-Saxon coinage is less common that Roman or medieval examples and a 10-20 coin hoard would normally be considered substantial, 100 coins would be exceptional.
The coins cover the rule of two kings, Ethelred II, who died in 1016, and Cnut, the first Viking king of England, who ruled from 1016 to 1035. The pennies show the rulers in a variety of busts, based on late Roman examples.
The scale of the hoard presents an opportunity for new studies of coinage and wider history in the period. Most of the pennies are of known types, but several are more unusual. These include three forgeries made with Ethelred’s name, but in fact minted abroad (two in Dublin, one from Scandinavia). One coin in the hoard is completely unique, showing on one side the ‘Agnus Dei’ image introduced by Ethelred and known to exist on around 30 other coins. However, its reverse image does not match the dove shown on these other pennies, but is of a more common type. This suggests a human error by the person making the coin.
The hoard was discovered wrapped in a lead sheet. This crumbled when lifted, but had protected the coins for nearly 1,000 years, keeping them in superb condition.
This remarkable treasure trove now enters the Buckinghamshire County Museum alongside its existing holding of around 6,000 coins. Only a small number of these are of Anglo-Saxon origin and there are plans to make the hoard the focus of a new display on the history of the county during this period.
Found by a metal detectorist on an organized rally at Lenborough, Buckinghamshire, in December 2014, and subsequently declared Treasure in November 2015.
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