The Coundon pendant

The Coundon pendant has been dated to circa AD 1450 – 1550. The pendant is named after a small hamlet which was part of the ancient parish of Holy Trinity, Coventry. Records tell us the church had land in Coundon from at least the early 14th century. The Domesday book of AD 1086 records that Coventry Priory also held land in the hamlet at that time. The priory’s lands in Coundon were not administered as a unified demesne estate, and were subsequently easily divided at the time of the Dissolution of the Monasteries between AD 1536 – 1541. We will never know of course the identity of the original owner of this religious object or the circumstances of its loss, however, there is a possibility that it could have belonged to a Prior or a local wealthy landowner.

The object has a suspension loop at the top and three remaining pins in the corners that are thought to have once contained pearls which later perished in the ground.

One side is crudely engraved with the head of Christ and the other with a half-length image of Christ as the Man of Sorrows.The object was reported to the Portable Antiquities Scheme office based in Birmingham under the stipulations of the Treasure Act 1996. A specialist report was written and metal analysis conducted at the British Museum established the gold content to be 83% gold.

The Coundon Pendant is on permanent display at The Herbert Museum and Art Gallery located in Coventry city centre.

Minted in Coventry in AD 1465

Thanks are extended to Duncan Slarke (Staffordshire & West Midlands FLO 2007-2009) who did the majority of the work on this back in February 2009. This is an update of his work.

During the initial three years of his first reign, Edward IV (1461-1470) struck money according to the weight and standards of his predecessor, Henry VI (1422-1461).

The indentures of 1464 and 1465 effectively reduced the weight of silver and gold coinage. Two new coins were introduced: The ryal (or rose noble) (two to the pound) and the angel (three to the pound and two to the mark).

His reasons for the recoinage are given in his proclamations quoted by Ruding as being, “amongst other thigns caused by lack of bryngyng of bolion into his myntes, which, as is conceived, is by cause that they that should bring bolion may have more for theire bolion in other princes’ mynters than in his”.

The problem has been described as “the great bullion famine of the 15th Century” which affected north-western Europe, bringing a monetary depression of such intensity that the 1440’s and 1450’s have been described as the, “low water mark of coinage in late medieval Europe”.

As part of the recoinage, increased minting capactiy was sought and on 6th July 1465 there was a commission to open new mints at Bristol, Norwich and Coventry.

Instructions were given to John Worledge and Thomas Nelson at Coventry, where the following coins were minted:
In gold: Ryal, Half ryal
In silver: Grot, Half-groat.

The new coinage resulted in a boom in minting drawn from the circulating medium at home and abroad as indicated by Tower mint figures. Between 15th September 1462 to 31st August 1464, £4, 891 in Gold and £17, 828 in Silver. Then between 1st September 1464 and 29th September 1466, £278, 774 in gold and £103, 753 in silver. Unfortunately the output records for Coventry have not been discovered.

The mints of Coventry and Norwich seem to have been short-lived: In a privy seal letter of 16th September 1465, the seigniorage which had previously been charged at London, York, Coventry, Norwich and Bristol was altered and the new charge ordered at London, York, and Bristol. This could show that the mints at Coventry and Norwich had already closed.

The fact that the Coventry mint was short-lived is borne out by the scarcity of the coins from the mint. Five have been recorded. An increase of four since Duncan did his initial work.

They are:

DENO-EF7C51, Groat of Edward IV, found in Newark and Sherwood, Nottinghamshire.

CPAT-DEF5B0, Groat of Edward IV, found in Oswestry Rural, Shropshire

NLM-4B7D64, Groat of Edward IV, found in West Lindsey, Lincolnshire

KENT-C586E1, a ryal of Edward IV, found in Smeeth, Kent

DENO-DB6FEB, A groat of Edward IV, found in Brampton, Derbyshire

Can we make it more? By recording where these coins have been found, we can start looking at mint distributions and trade links.

The coinages of Edward IV and of Henry VI (Restored), Blunt and Whitton, BNJ, 1946.
English Hammered Coinage, volume II, north 1991
A new history of the Royal Mint, Challis, 1992
Medieval English Groats, Buck, 2000.