Gold angel of Henry VII found in Derbyshire

DENO-C5A99E: Medieval coin: angel of Henry VII
Gold angel of Henry VII from near Ashbourne (DENO-C5A99E). Copyright: Derby Museums Trust. Licence: CC BY

This gold medieval angel of Henry VII was recently found by a detectorists near Ashbourne (DENO-C5A99E). Henry VII, also known as Henry Tudor, was born in 1457 at Pembroke Castle in Wales. He was the son of Margaret Beaufort, a descendent of John of Gaunt, and Edmund Tudor, half-brother to King Henry VI. His mother gave birth to him when she was only thirteen years old. His father died whilst he was still very young and he spent much of his childhood in exile abroad with his uncle Jasper Tudor. In 1485 Henry Tudor returned to England to challenge his distant cousin King Richard III for the throne and defeated him at the Battle of Bosworth Field. His victory ended the rule of the Plantagenets and ushered in a new dynasty, the Tudors. During his reign he was a shrewd and frugal King, and implemented reforms in areas such as taxation. He married Richard’s niece Elizabeth of York, thereby securing peace between the rival factions of the royal family and ending the decades-long Wars of the Roses. Their eldest son, Arthur, died aged only fifteen in 1502, and their other son Henry succeeded his father upon his death in 1509, becoming the soon-to-be infamous King Henry VIII.

The angel was a type of medieval English gold coin, based on the French angelot. It was introduced in 1465 by King Edward IV, elder brother of Richard III. He also introduced the half-angel in 1472. The name is taken from its depiction of the archangel Michael slaying a dragon on the obverse. The reverse portrays a ship with a cross for a mast. This coin was minted in London. The reverse has been double struck, meaning it was stamped twice by accident.

Rare Cromford Dollars acquired by Derby Museums

A hoard of seven post-medieval silver coins that was discovered by a metal detectorist in 2016 has been acquired by Derby Museums (DENO-BBE206). The contents of the hoard include three Spanish-American 8 reales coins known as ‘dollars’ minted in 1801 and 1802, and four very worn British shillings from the late 17th to 18th century.

Cromford Dollar minted in Mexico City in 1802.
Cromford Dollar minted in Mexico City in 1802. Copyright: Derby Museums Trust. License: CC BY

The hoard is an important local find because the dollars have been counter-stamped with Cromford Derbyshire 4 9. Cromford in Derbyshire is the site of Richard Arkwright’s water-powered cotton mill, part of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site.

Arkwright's Mills, painted by Joseph Wright of Derby, c. 1795-6.
Arkwright’s Mills, painted by Joseph Wright of Derby c. 1795-6. Copyright Derby Museums Trust. License: All Rights Reserved.

At the beginning of the 19th century there was a shortage of silver coinage because too few new coins were entering circulation. Royal Mint rules at the time meant that the mint could not buy silver bullion above a certain price and the Napoleonic Wars had caused the price of silver to increase above that level. However, British ships had captured many Spanish ships laden with goods from South America, including many silver ‘dollars’. Business owners used these coins to pay their workers, counter-stamping them with their bullion value. All three of the coins are stamped with 4 9, indicating that they were worth 4 shillings and 9 pence.

Cromford Dollar minted in Lima, Peru in 1802. Copyright
Cromford Dollar minted in Lima, Peru in 1802. Copyright: Derby Museums Trust. License: CC BY

The dollars show Charles IV of Spain on the obverse and the Spanish Coat of Arms on the reverse. Two of these dollars were minted in Mexico City, while the other was minted in Lima, Peru.

Mint mark showing the coin was minted in Mexico City
Mint mark on two of the coins showing they were minted in Mexico City. Copyright: Derby Museums Trust. License: CC BY.
Mint mark showing the coin was minted in Lima, Peru.
Mint mark on one of the coins showing it was minted in Lima, Peru. The mintmark consists of the letters LIMAE ligated (joined together). Copyright: Derby Museums Trust. License: CC BY.

One of the other coins is also quite interesting. The original design had completely worn away by the time it was deposited (it had probably been in circulation for 100 years), but the coin was then stamped with three sets of initials on one side (JA, JJ and WW) and BURNSIDE on the other. The coin also has a double bend in it that indicates it may have been used as a love token or a lucky coin.

Silver shilling stamped and bent.
Silver shilling stamped and bent. Copyright: Derby Museums Trust. License: CC BY.

The coin hoard is an important addition to Derby Museums’ collection. The Derby Silk Mill is the site of Britain’s first fully mechanised factory and forms one of the three Derby Museums sites as well as the southern most part of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site. The collection contains several other artefacts that relate to Arkwright’s Mill as well as paintings of the mill by artists including Joseph Wright of Derby.

These coins are currently on display at Derby Museum and Art Gallery as part of the exhibition Derbyshire Unearthed: Coins and Coin Hoards until Sunday 22nd April. The Cromford Dollars will then form part of the new World Cultures gallery at the museum from May 2018.

 

Vikings in South Derbyshire

Most people with an interest in archaeology, or who have been watching ‘The Last Kingdom’ on the telly, will have heard of the Viking Great Heathen Army which ravaged England in the ninth century. Fewer people may know that the Army overwintered in South Derbyshire, at Repton, in A.D. 873-4. It is unlikely that all the Vikings will have stayed in the camp all winter, as foraging parties would have been sent up and down the river Trent, and they will have wanted to keep an eye on the approaches to Repton to warn of any possible attacks.

One of the sites which I have been metal detecting on is a few miles upstream from Repton, on the opposite side of the river from the Anglo-Saxon site at Catholme, near to a place where the river is shallow enough to be forded, and from which there are good views of the Roman road where it crosses the river at Wychnor Bridge, and from which, on a clear day, you can see Tamworth. These factors would make it a good place for lookouts to be stationed.

So might this 8th century Arabic coin (PUBLIC-458D27) that I found on the site have been dropped by one of Ivar the Boneless’s lads?

Dirham of the Umayyads dating to AD 741-742
Dirham of the Umayyads dating to AD 741-742 (PUBLIC-458D27). Copyright: Roger Thomas. License: CC BY.

 

I’d like to think so.

The coin is currently on display in Derbyshire Unearthed, an exhibition at Derby Museum and Art Gallery about Treasure and the Portable Antiquities Scheme.

Meet the FLA: Helen

Tell us about yourself.

I am the Finds Liaison Assistant for Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire. I have been working with the PAS for three years and this is my second time working in Derby. I have been FLA since December 2016.

What does your role involve?

My role involves recording archaeological finds brought in by detectorists, either at club meetings or at Finds Days. These finds I research and describe and put all information required onto a record on the database. I assist the FLO with his work load. I photograph objects, and manipulate the image using Photoshop for a clear accurate image for the database. I visit clubs and attend Finds Days. I will be helping to train Volunteers, as well as responding to any queries. I also will be dealing with Treasure, old and new cases.

What area of history/archaeology are you most interested in?

All areas of history interest me, I have always held a long standing passion for British history and archaeology. Recently however I have been researching the Plantagenet Dynasty, and I have been fascinated by their rise and fall.  I am fond of recording Medieval coins, and finds of the Medieval period, some can be quite a challenge.  I also enjoy researching the Early Medieval period.  Some of the most inspiring and beautiful objects in the country date from this period, for instance The Staffordshire Hoard and Sutton Hoo, there is also the countless manuscripts produced at this time.

Why did you start working for the PAS?

I began to work with the PAS because I wanted to do something with my Archaeology Honours degree. When my partner found a volunteer position on the Birmingham Museums website, I knew that was the role for me. Three years later, I’ve written over 1200 records and I’ve never looked back.

What do you enjoy most about working for the PAS?

In this role we handle ancient objects daily, we get to handle objects that have only been handled once since they were dropped, or buried. We have a tangible link to the past that is not common in other roles. I have enjoyed the challenge of researching objects and finding out where to start with objects I have never seen before. But most of all I think the thing I enjoy most about working with the PAS is the fact that it is a perfect fit for me, the people are amazing, the objects are beautiful and challenging. I love this job.

What is the most exciting find from Derbyshire you have recorded so far? 

I have to say that the most exciting find I have recorded from Derbyshire has to be this one  DENO-4F12EB this a complete and beautiful decorated flat axe of the Early Bronze Age, dating from c. 2250 BC – 1900 BC. This fits with Early Bronze Age (EBA phase II / III), of metalworking stage IV-VI, which corresponds to Needham’s (1996) Period 2-3 circa 2250 – 1900 CAL. BC. It is decorated with a series of incised lines forming what is commonly called a ‘Rain Pattern’. For me this was a stunning example of a flat axe and the decoration was so clear. An axe of this quality is rare in this part of the world and as a result this is a Find of Note of County Importance. It was an amazing artefact to record.

A complete decorated flat axe of the Early Bronze Age DENO-4F12EB. Copyright: Derby Museums Trust. License: CC BY

What is your favourite find from Derbyshire that has been recorded on the PAS database and why?

This has been tricky to pick one, but I think this Medieval coin, DENO-17D7A5 is definitely a favourite! This is a Cross and crosslets (or Tealby) type penny of Henry II, it dates from the period AD 1158 – AD 1165. Tealby pennies are notoriously difficult to identify, they are often very worn and the detail is often difficult to read or see. This object however is in remarkable condition, and one of the best quality Tealby coins I have seen! Much of the detail is clear and present. Amazing discovery!

A near complete, Medieval, Cross and Crosslets (Tealby) type penny of Henry II. DENO-17D7A5. Copyright: Derby Museums Trust. License: CC BY.

 

 

Meet the Volunteers: Simon

Simon Nicholson. Copyright: Simon Nicholson. License: All Rights Reserved
Simon Nicholson. Copyright: Simon Nicholson. License: All Rights Reserved

 

Tell us about yourself.

I have been volunteering with the PAS in Derby since November 2015. My background is in adult education; my specialist area is Astronomy.

What does your role involve?

I assist the FLO identifying and recording items brought in by members of the public.

What area of history/archaeology are you most interested in?

I have long been interested in the Roman period, but since volunteering with the PAS I have become interested in a wider range of periods, especially Anglo-Saxon.

Why did you start volunteering for the PAS?

I am recovering from a stroke, and was looking for a positive use of my time. As I have always had an interest in history, working with the PAS sounded very attractive. I support the aims and goals of the PAS, I feel the recording of found objects is an important part of preserving our heritage, and I can appreciate the value of the database as a resource for future research.

What do you enjoy most about volunteering for the PAS?

I enjoy the chance to see and handle ancient objects, and the challenge of identifying artefacts. The variety of objects that come in is amazing.  I find the training provided excellent; I have learned so much.

What is the most exciting find from Derbyshire you have recorded so far?

DENO-648944 is a Polden-Hill type Roman brooch.

Roman Polden Hill Brooch
Roman Polden Hill Brooch.(DENO-648944) Copyright: Derby Museums Trust. License CC-BY

I find personal items like brooches very evocative.

What is your favorite find from Derbyshire that has been recorded on the PAS database and why?

DENO-D9B7E3 is an Iron Age coin of the Corieltavi tribe.

Iron Age Quarter Stater
Iron Age North Eastern Lindsey Scyphate Quarter Stater (DENO-D987E3)
Copyright Derby Museum Trust. License: CC-BY

Before working on the PAS I had an image of Iron Age Britons as rather primitive, huddled in their woad waiting for the Romans to civilize them! But objects like this, beautifully crafted, demonstrate a sophisticated culture.

 

 

 

Meet the FLO: Alastair

Alastair Willis, FLO for Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire
Alastair Willis, FLO for Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire. Copyright: Alastair Willis. License: All Rights Reserved.

Tell us about yourself.

I have been the Finds Liaison Officer for Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire since May 2015. I started out as a PAS volunteer in Wiltshire before getting two Headley Trust funded PAS internships, firstly in Wiltshire and Hampshire, and then in Lincolnshire. I also volunteered in the Department of Coins and Medals at the British Museum.

What does your role involve?

As FLO, I am responsible for identifying and recording archaeological objects found by members of the public in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire. I also visit metal detecting club meetings, attend finds days and other outreach events at museums, and deal with Treasure finds.

What area of history/archaeology are you most interested in?

I studied Ancient History and Archaeology at University and then did a Master’s degree in Egyptology, so my specialism used to be the relations between Egypt and the Aegean in the Late Bronze Age, Having moved into British archaeology, I am most interested in the Roman period, particularly Roman coins, but I really enjoy seeing objects from other periods as well, especially the Iron Age.

Why did you start working for the PAS?

The PAS really attracted me because FLOs and volunteers get the opportunity to see and handle objects from all periods of human history. The PAS’s goal to record objects found by members of the public and make them accessible to both researchers and the public really appealed to me. I think the preservation of our heritage is hugely important and requires the cooperation between many different parties including archaeologists, museums, metal detectorists, landowners and other members of the public.

What do you enjoy most about working for the PAS?

I get to work with and learn about such a wide range of objects, many of which have only just been discovered.

What is the most exciting find from Derbyshire you have recorded so far?

This stone head (DENO-B52638) potentially dates to the Iron Age, but it is possible that it is much more recent.

Stone head possibly dating to the Iron Age
Stone head possibly dating to the Iron Age (DENO-B52638). Copyright: Derby City Council. License: CC-BY

What is your favourite find from Derbyshire that has been recorded on the PAS database and why?

I think the Ashbourne Hoard (DENO-651C91 and DENO-64DAE1) is the one of the most fascinating finds from Derbyshire. It consists of two gold aurei of Carausius, a Roman emperor who ruled Britain and parts of Gaul between AD 286 and 293. Gold coins of Carausius are extremely rare finds. These two coins would have represented two months pay for a soldier at the time.

A gold coin called an aureus of the emperor Carausius
Gold aureus of Carausius from the Ashbourne Hoard (DENO-651C91). Copyright: Derby City Council. License: CC-BY.
A gold coin called an aureus of the emperor Carausius
Gold aureus of Carausius from the Ashbourne Hoard (DENO-64DAE1). Copyright: Derby City Council. License: CC-BY.