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.

Counterfeits, clippings and copies in Derbyshire

Derbyshire appears to have been a hotbed of coin counterfeiting in the past. Several counterfeit Roman denarii and 17th century half crowns and shillings have been discovered in the county and recorded with the PAS. Counterfeits were silver plated (e.g. DENO-DAAFF0), or made from base silver and disguised with a silver wash (e.g. PUBLIC-F070C6). They can be very high quality copies that would have looked genuine and are now only recognisable because of damage to the coins revealing the copper alloy core  (e.g. DENO-9B79DE).

Silver plated contemporary copy of a Roman denarius of Julia Domna.
Silver plated contemporary copy of a Roman denarius of Julia Domna from Wormhill (DENO-DAAFF0). Copyright: Derby Museums Trust. Licence: CC BY
Silver plated contemporary copy of a Roman denarius of Julia Domna
Base silver contemporary copy of a Roman denarius of Julia Domna from near Catton (PUBLIC-F070C6). Copyright: Roger Thomas. Licence: CC BY
Silver plated half crown of Charles I.
Silver plated half crown of Charles I from Wormhill (DENO-9B79DE). Copyright: Derby Museums Trust. Licence: CC BY

Later Roman coins were also copied, but not necessarily for malicious reasons. In AD 260, Britain, Gaul and Spain broke away from the rest of the Roman Empire, forming an independent Gallic Empire. The Gallic Emperors minted their own coins (based on radiates minted by the central Roman Empire) in Trier in large quantities, many of which are found in Britain. When the Gallic Empire was reabsorbed by the central Roman Empire in AD 274, coin minting in Trier ceased. The mints in Rome were not used to minting coins for Britain, so there was a shortage of radiates in Britain. The inhabitants of Britain had grown used to a monetary economy, so people began to make their own copies of radiates (known as barbarous radiates) out of old Roman sestertii and other pieces of scrap copper alloy. One of the most well known coin hoards from Derbyshire is the Amber Valley Hoard (DENO-A6AE06) which contains 3631 radiates, all but four of which are barbarous radiates. The barbarous radiates in the hoard are very crude; clearly not meant to fool anyone.

The Amber Valley Coin Hoard.
The Amber Valley Coin Hoard. Copyright: Derby Museums Trust. Licence: CC BY

It was a common but illegal practice to clip the edges of silver coins in order to melt the silver down and use it for other things including counterfeiting coins. Until 1662, most coins were struck or hammered from irregularly shaped pieces of metal, so it was easy to get away with this crime.

Counterfeiting and clipping was a big problem for the authorities who made various attempts to prevent it. During the Roman Republic, some denarii were minted with serrated edges (e.g. DENO-C8C497), a feature thought to discourage counterfeiting. They were only short-lived so they were clearly not successful.

Roman Republican silver denarius serratus of L. Papius, from Holymoorside and Walton.
Roman Republican silver denarius serratus of L. Papius, from Holymoorside and Walton (DENO-C8C497). Copyright: Derby Museums Trust. Licence: CC BY

During the medieval period, the change from short cross to long cross coinage in 1247 was probably intended to prevent clipping. Coin clipping and counterfeiting was a crime punishable by death. In spite of these measures, coin clipping and counterfeiting continued and was particularly common during the English Civil War when counterfeiters thought that they were more likely to get away with it. Several hoards of clippings from that period have been discovered in Derbyshire. One of these was found in Alderwasley (DENO-060EAA). The video below is from a Blue Peter episode. Skip to 5:25 to see the finders talking about their discovery.

Derby also has a connection to coin counterfeiting. Noah Bullock set up a business on a boat on the River Derwent, where he clipped and counterfeited coins. He was arrested and only escaped the hangman’s noose because he knew the magistrate. The Noah’s Ark pub in Derby is named after him.

Many of the coins mentioned in the article are currently on display in Derbyshire Unearthed: Coins and Coin Hoards, an exhibition of Treasure and PAS finds at Derby Museum and Art Gallery.

Derbyshire Unearthed: 20 Years of Treasure and the PAS

Derbyshire Unearthed is an exhibition at Derby Museum and Art Gallery celebrating the 20th anniversary of the implementation of the Treasure Act 1996 on 24th September 1997 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and the founding of the Portable Antiquities Scheme. The exhibition is in two parts. Part 1: Artefacts runs from 23rd September 2017 to 4th February 2018. Part 2: Coins and coin hoards will run from 10th February 2018 to 22nd April 2018.

Rick Tailby, Facilitator and Technician at Derby Museums, planning the layout for the objects before mounting them.
Rick Tailby, Facilitator and Technician at Derby Museums, planning the layout for the objects before mounting them. Copyright: Derby Museums Trust. License: All rights reserved.

 

Jonathan Wallis, Head of Museum and Museum and Art Gallery Development at Derby Museums, mounting some of the Treasure objects.
Jonathan Wallis, Head of Museum and Museum and Art Gallery Development at Derby Museums, mounting some of the Treasure objects. Copyright: Derby Museums Trust. License: All rights reserved.

The exhibition forms part of the national ‘20 Years of Treasure‘ celebrations organised in partnership with the British Museum. It features fascinating Treasure objects from Derby Museums’ collection as well as non-Treasure that have been lent or donated by their finders. Here are a few of the highlights:

Saxon gold buckle plate (DENO-459ADD)

Saxon gold buckle plate (DENO-459ADD) Copyright: Derby Museums Trust License: CC-BY
Saxon gold buckle plate (DENO-459ADD). Copyright: Derby Museums Trust.  License: CC-BY.

Viking silver ingot (WMID-9F9B50)

Viking silver ingot (WMID-9F9B50). Copyright: Derby Museums Trust. License: CC-BY.
Viking silver ingot (WMID-9F9B50). Copyright: Derby Museums Trust. License: CC-BY.

Medieval silver pendant with reused Roman carnelian intaglio (DENO-5D69B7)

Medieval silver pendant with reused Roman carnelian intaglio (DENO-5D69B7). Copyright: Derby Museums Trust. License: CC-BY.
Medieval silver pendant with reused Roman carnelian intaglio (DENO-5D69B7). Copyright: Derby Museums Trust. License: CC-BY.

Medieval gold brooch (DENO-1AF752)

Medieval gold brooch. Copyright: Derby Museums Trust. License: CC-BY.
Medieval gold brooch (DENO-1AF752). Copyright: Derby Museums Trust. License: CC-BY.

Medieval to post-medieval silver “hawking” bell (DENO-127662)

Medieval to post-medieval silver 'hawking' bell. Copyright: Derby Museums Trust. License: CC-BY.
Medieval to post-medieval silver ‘hawking’ bell (DENO-127662). Copyright: Derby Museums Trust. License: CC-BY.

Post-medieval silver pendant (DENO-E6E8D8)

Post-medieval silver pendant. Copyright: Derby Museums Trust. License: CC-BY.
Post-medieval silver pendant (DENO-E6E8D8). Copyright: Derby Museums Trust. License: CC-BY.

Post-medieval gold finger ring (DENO-756EB2)

Post-medieval gold finger ring (DENO-756EB2). Copyright: Derby Museums Trust. License: CC-BY.
Post-medieval gold finger ring (DENO-756EB2). Copyright: Derby Museums Trust. License: CC-BY.

 

Districts of Derbyshire: Erewash

Erewash is a local government district and borough of eastern Derbyshire. It lies to the east of Derby and to the west Nottingham. The borough is home to 112,081 people and the towns of Ikeston and Long Eaton are located here.

Occupation in this area seems to date back to at least the Neolithic. Evidence of this can be seen in finds like this (DENO-37C042). This is an implement of unknown form, it is possibly a chisel, axe or a form of scraper tool. It is made from a fine, dark flint. The flake scars caused by the knapping process is obvious on this example as is the areas of retouch on the outer edge. This example dates from c. 3,500 BC – 2,100 BC.

Neolithic flint implement (DENO-37C042). Copyright: Derby Museums Trust. License: CC BY-SA

Objects of the Bronze Age seem to be a rare occurrence in Erewash, given that only two finds have been recorded from the region on the PAS database. One of these is a very unusual object (LEIC-732185). It seems to be a bridle fitting probably dating to the late Bronze Age, but possibly dating to the Early Medieval period. There is a central strap bar formed of two parts, one upper and one lower. A leather strap would have passed between them. This object also serves to highlight how difficult some objects are to identify and date accurately, due to style and rarity.

Late Bronze Age to Early Medieval Bridle fitting (LEIC-732185). Copyright: Wendy Scott. License: CC BY-SA

Erewash continued to be occupied throughout the Iron Age, as this next object shows (DENO-B0A936). It is an incomplete but beautiful beaded torc that dates from the late Iron Age to early Roman period. The object consists of one terminal and ten beads. The other terminal has broken, and is missing. Each of the ten beads has a raised central plain with a beaded line to each side. It dates from the 1st to 3rd centuries and was found near Ockbrook.

Iron Age Beaded Torc (DENO-B0A936). Copyright: Derby Museums Trust. License: CC BY-SA

The next two objects are interesting pieces and show that even the Romans were partial to to fun and games in Derbyshire! The first is instantly recognisable and is commonly used today (DENO-81AC76). It is a die made of copper alloy and the numbers are in dot form on the surface of each face. The second is a beautiful coloured object (DENO-4AE6C1). It is probably a gaming piece or bead made of a bright blue glass. The front face of this object is domed and the reverse is flat. There appears to be a hole through the centre which seems to be wider at the bottom than the top. Both objects date to the Roman period AD c. 43 – AD 410 .

Roman Die (DENO-81AC76). Copyright: Derby Museums Trust. License: CC BY-SA
Roman blue glass probable gaming piece (DENO-4AE6C1). Copyright: Derby Museums Trust. License: CC BY-SA

During the Early Medieval period, Erewash was a busy place. The town of Ilkeston was founded in the 6th century and seems to have derived it’s name from its supposed founder Elch or Elcha, who was an Anglian chieftain (Elka’s Tun = Elka’s Town). This zoomorphic strap end dates from a few centuries later (DENO-839B93). The strap end has a zoomorphic (or animal) terminal at one end with a wolf, snake or dog head usually depicted. There is a decorated panel with a design of interlocking knotwork in the centre of the object. This is a lovely example and is almost complete. It dates from the 9th Century AD.

Early Medieval Zoomorphic Strap End (DENO-839B93). Copyright: Derby Museums Trust. License: CC BY-SA

Finds from the Medieval period are more common in this region than previous periods. This gold annular brooch is one of the more special items from the area (DENO-1AF752). It has been decorated with a pair of clasped hands on one edge and the pin has a collar at the junction of the loop and shaft. The inscription reads “IOV I: IVIL VOI ONLI”. It appears garbled, but it can be reconstructed as “Love, I will you only”. Which suggests it was given as a gift between lovers. It is a beautiful object with a wonderful and loyal sentiment behind it.

Medieval Gold Annular Brooch (DENO-1AF752). Copyright: Derby Museums Trust. License: CC BY-SA

More finds are discovered in the region of Erewash from the Post Medieval period than are found from any other period. One of these finds is a silver soldino of Doge Leonardo Lorendano of Venice (DENO-2B1DD6). The coin depicts the standing figure of Christ on the obverse (front), with the standing figure of St Mark with the kneeling Doge at his feet on the reverse. This object highlights how interconnected places like Derbyshire, and the rest of the country, were at this time with the rest of Europe. During the 15th and 16th century there was a shortage of English struck halfpennies within the economy of the country, so people began filling the gap with foreign coinage. This is an example of one of the coins they used instead, this coin has a similar weight in silver as an English halfpenny. This coin dates from AD 1501 – AD 1521.

Post Medieval Soldino of Doge Leonardo Lorendano (DENO-2B1DD6). Copyright: Derby Museums Trust. License: CC BY-SA

 

 

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.

 

 

Districts of Derbyshire: Amber Valley

Amber Valley is a government district and borough of Derbyshire, situated in the heart of the county. Amber Valley takes its name from the River Amber, a tributary of the River Derwent. It is a semi-rural area, which is home to the towns of Belper, Alfreton, Heanor and Ripley, as well as a number of villages including Duffield, Heage and Swanick.

The Amber Valley area has been inhabited by humans from the Stone Age. This Mesolithic flint flake (DENO-AFA6D5) dates from around 8,300 years ago, at a time when nomadic tribes roamed the tundra as hunter-gatherers, and was found near the village of Mackworth.

Mesolithic Lithic Implement
Mesolithic flint blade (DENO-AFA6D5). Copyright: Derby Museums Trust. License: CC BY-SA

During the Iron Age, south-central Britain was incorporated into trading links with the Continent, and this sculpture from near Duffield (DENO-B69D3A) suggests that such connections may have influenced Iron Age Britons as far north as Derbyshire. The carvings on each of the faces closely resemble those found on the ‘Kermaria Stone’, a contemporary pillar stone from Finistere in Western Brittany.

Iron Age 'Pillar Stone' or Stele
Iron Age ‘pillar stone’ or stele (DENO-B69D3A). Copyright: Derby Museums Trust. License: CC BY.

Before the Roman invasion of Britain in AD 43, most of the East Midlands was inhabited by a tribe known as the Corieltavi. Amber Valley is situated just outside the area that is traditionally associated with the Corieltavi, but this gold quarter-starter (DENO-D9B7E3), dating to c.60-c.30 BC, was found in Belper. It suggests that Corieltavi territory may have extend further than is traditionally thought or it could indicate that there was trade between the Corieltavi and their neighbours. This is the second most westerly recorded coin of its type, but other Corieltavi coins have been discovered as far away as Wales.

Iron Age Quarter Stater
Iron Age North Eastern Lindsey Scyphate Quarter Stater (DENO-D9B7E3). Copyright Derby City Council. License: CC BY

When the Roman Empire teetered on the brink of collapse during the Crisis of the Third Century, Britain was thrown into turmoil and two coin hoards from Amber Valley offer a glimpse into the fragmenting power structures of the time. One hoard from near Ripley (DENO-658F16consists of three silver ‘radiates’, a denomination introduced in the 3rd century AD. The ‘radiate’ may originally have introduced as a double-denarius, but only weighed one and a half denarii. The decline of the Empire at this time is marked by the rapid debasement of the coinage, as the silver content in ‘radiates’- around 50% in c.238 – was reduced to as little as 1% by the end of the century, with copper-alloy becoming the primary material. In some cases the lack of financial sustainability drove people to take matters into their own hands; in the Amber Valley Hoard (DENO-A6AE06), all but four of the 3631 coins are ‘barbarous radiates’ – locally produced coins intended to fill a gap in the supply of official coins to Britain.

Radiate coin hoard from Ripley
Radiate coin hoard from Ripley (DENO-658F16). Copyright: Derby Museums Trust. License: CC BY-SA
Roman Coin Hoard
The Amber Valley Hoard (DENO-658F16). Copyright: The British Museum. License: CC BY-SA.

Found in Hazelwood, DENO-90F223 is one of many examples of medieval coins uncovered in Amber Valley. This silver penny dates to the period AD c.1280-c.1282, during the reign of King Edward I. At this time, Hazelwood was one of the numerous towns and villages that formed Duffield Frith, an area of Derbyshire which had become part of the Duchy of Lancaster in 1266 and been appointed a Royal Forest in 1285. King Edward I hunted in the forest personally between AD 1290 and 1293.

Silver Medieval Penny of Edward I.
Silver medieval penny of Edward I (DENO-90F223). Copyright: The Portable Antiquities Scheme. License: CC BY-SA.

Belper is known for being one of the earliest mill towns, home to the world’s second-oldest water-powered cotton mill. But before the Industrial Revolution, the spinning of textiles was carried out by hand. The use of a spindle whorl, such as the one found in LVPL-D80A36, was a crucial part of this earlier process, as it could increase and maintain the spin of the spindle. Whilst this particular one is made of lead-alloy, spindle whorls were common throughout the world and so could be crafted from a variety of local materials, including chalk, limestone, antler and even coral! 

Medieval Spindle Whorl
Medieval lead-alloy spindle whorl (LVPL-D80A36). Copyright: National Museums Liverpool. License: CC BY-SA.

Just as the driving force of the Industrial Revolution grew from such towns as Belper, then so do objects discarded by Britain’s declining industries in the competitive modern age find their way back to Amber Valley. This lead-alloy seal matrix (DENO-3BFC06), found in Holbrook, from the Crane Foundry in Wolverhampton, is one such example. This seal matrix dates anywhere from 1847, when the foundry registered its own trademark, to 2006, when the company went into liquidation. Objects like these prove that, thousands of years after the first settlers made their home among the hills of Amber Valley, its people are still leaving behind little pieces of history for future generations to find.

Crane Foundry Seal Matrix
Post-medieval to modern seal matrix of the Crane Foundry, Wolverhampton (DENO-3BFC06). Copyright: Derby Museums Trust. License: CC BY.

Meet the Volunteers: Sophie

Sophie holding a medieval gold ring.
Sophie with a medieval gold ring. Copyright: Sophie Mander. License: All rights reserved.

Tell us about yourself.

I have been a volunteer for the Portable Antiquities Scheme in Derbyshire since October 2016. I am currently on a gap year after finishing high school, where I studied History for A Level, and next year I will be studying English and Creative Writing at the University of Warwick.

What does your role involve?

As I volunteer, I record and identify objects found by members of the public with the help of the Finds Liaison Officer for Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, Alastair. I also photograph objects, post information about the PAS in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire on social media and assist at outreach events at Derby Museum and Art Gallery.

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

For a few years my area of interest has been medieval English history, particularly the Wars of the Roses. Thanks to the PAS, I am now also interested in the history and archeology of Imperial Rome and early medieval Europe.

Why did you start working for the PAS?

Volunteering for the PAS gives you a hands-on approach to history, and has shown me how much understanding the past relies on using individual, often ordinary, objects to discover how people used to live, work, eat, drink, spend money, trade goods, wear their clothes and perform other similar tasks. The PAS and its network of FLOs and volunteers is vitally important in contributing to the global effort of preserving these little yet crucial pieces of history from being lost forever.

What do you enjoy most about volunteering for the PAS?

The detective work of figuring out the identity of an object from a variety of sources.

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

This post-medieval pipe tamper (DENO-0C6CC4) dates to around AD 1700-1900, and is shaped as a devil-like figure.

Pipe tamper in the shape of a devil standing on one foot.
Pipe tamper in the shape of a devil standing on one foot (DENO-0C6CC4). 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 gold ring (DENO-0B1431) dates to the 15th century and bears the French inscription “en bon desir”, which translates as “in good desire”. I find this ring interesting as it offers a glimpse into the perceptions and practices of romantic love during the medieval period.

A 15th-century posy ring with the French inscription "en bon desir", which translates as "in good desire".
A 15th-century gold ring inscribed in French (DENO-0B1431). Copyright: Derby Museums Trust. License: CC-BY.