All that glitters….

A gold half noble of Henry iV.
Gold half noble of Henry IV. Copyright: National Museums Liverpool
License: Attribution-ShareAlike License.

Sometimes all that glitters really is gold and every once in a while we are given a genuine piece of bling to record, such as this gold half noble of Henry IV, (AD 1399-1413) which was discovered in St Helens by a metal detectorist in 2012.

Currently on the PAS database we have 1, 200,145 objects within 756,059 records, and more are being added every day. However amongst all those finds there are only 63 gold half nobles recorded, which gives you an indication of how rare this class of object is.

The obverse, or the “heads” side of the coin, depicts King Henry IV standing on a ship facing out. He’s wearing a crown and armour and is holding a sword and shield. The shield is quartered with the arms of England and France. Around the edge is the legend which reads HENRIC[DI GRA REX ANGL Z F]RANC [D]N[S HIB Z AQ]. This legend can be translated as “Henry, by the Grace of God, King of England and France, Lord of Ireland and Aquitaine”.

The reverse, or the “tails” side of the coin is a what is called a ‘floriated’ cross – which is a cross decorated with flowers or floral motifs at the end. In each angle created by this cross is a lion with a crown above. All of this is within a decorative ring called a tressure, made up of eight arches. The legend on the reverse reads [DOMINE NE IN] FVRORE TVO ARGVAS [ME], which translates as “O Lord rebuke me not in Thine anger”.

A half noble of this type was part of the light coinage of Henry IV that dates from AD 1412-1413. This coin is of particular interest because it has no annulet (or small ring) next to the trefoil on the side of the ship and it therefore appears to be a variant type.  It is these very small, subtle differences in the coins that help us to identify where and when they were made.

The coin is now recorded on the PAS database and the full record can be viewed LVPL-004154.

Neolithic Axe From Caldy

Neolithic Axe from the Caldy area of Wirral.
Neolithic stone axe. Copyright: National Museums Liverpool. License: Attribution-ShareAlike.

A lot of the finds recorded with the Portable Antiquities Scheme tend to be made of metal, even though we are always more than happy to record objects made from other materials. We see lots of coins and buttons and buckles, but rarely do we get to record stone axes. Therefore this one, found while gardening in the Caldy area of Wirral and bought in for recording, was a real treat.

There are currently only 158 stone axes recorded on the Portable Antiquities Scheme database. Fourteen of these have been recovered from Cumbria, one from St. Helens recorded as LVPL-7D4596 , one from Cheshire recorded as LVPL-8F10F8 and now this example from the Wirral. Due to their construction material stone axes are usually found by members of the public while gardening or field walking and are found less frequently by metal detector users. This accounts for the small numbers recorded on the Portable Antiquities Scheme database compared with later copper alloy axes.

This latest axe from Caldy dates to the Neolithic period (c 4000-2500BC). It is sub-trapezoidal in plan with convex curved faces. Both the butt end and cutting face have been knapped and reflaked, perhaps for a secondary use or for re-hafting. The faces of the axe are worn with scratch marks and the polished surface is faded. The stone is a light greenish brown colour, possibly a volcanic rock originating from the Scarfell Pike area of the Lake District. You can view the full record at record number LVPL-FA1F01.