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.

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.