Ancient Anglo-Saxon gold coin found by metal detector sells for record price in Britain The British Museum is delighted to announce that it has acquired a rare and important Anglo-Saxon gold coin depicting Coenwulf King of Mercia (796-821).
News-Antique.com - Nov 30,-0001 - The British Museum is delighted to announce that it has acquired a rare and important Anglo-Saxon gold coin depicting Coenwulf King of Mercia (796-821). The Museum is extremely grateful for the generous support of the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) and the National Art Collections Fund (the Art Fund) among others, in making this purchase possible. The Museum successfully managed to raise the amount required to reach the export license figure, making it the most expensive British coin ever purchased.
The coin is tremendously important as a new source of information on Anglo-Saxon kingship in the early ninth century, a period which is little documented in English history. One of only eight known gold coins of the mid to late Saxon period, of which the Museum now owns seven, this unique coin is probably the earliest example of a gold coin in the name of an English ruler intended as part of a circulating currency. Coenwulf’s kingdom of Mercia stretched from the Thames in the south to the Humber in the north, and the Welsh border in the west. Through conquest, he also ruled the kingdoms of East Anglia and Kent. His combined kingdom made him the most powerful single ruler in Britain at that time.
The coin is in far better condition than the other known examples. Beautifully struck and exceptionally well-preserved, it offers an insight into both the expression of royal power and monetary developments in England during this period. It provides new details about the status of London during Coenwulf's reign, and about his political and economic relationship with continental Europe and his famous contemporary, Charlemagne (see details overleaf). It was found by a metal detectorist near Bedford in 2001.
The coin will go on display in the Museum in the HSBC Money gallery from 9th February, alongside other Anglo-Saxon gold coins in the collection and related material.
Stephen Johnson, Head of the National Heritage Memorial Fund said,
“The Coenwulf Coin is exactly the sort of thing that the NHMF was set up save. Today's announcement sees this precious and valuable reminder of our Anglo-Saxon past joining the outstanding collections of the British Museum, but also the world-class collection of objects and places saved by NHMF for the people of Britain, to encapsulate the rich story of Britain."
David Barrie, Director, Art Fund, adds,
'We were really impressed by this exceptionally rare and beautiful coin. The Anglo-Saxon world can seem very remote but an object like this helps bring it to life. We are
delighted to have helped add such a precious coin to the national collection held at the
British Museum - which is just where it belongs.'
Gareth Williams, Anglo-Saxon coin curator, British Museum commented:
“The Coenwulf gold coin is tremendously significant as a new source of information on Anglo-Saxon kingship in the early ninth century. We are delighted to have acquired this piece for the national collection and would like to thank the NHMF, the Art Fund, the Goldsmiths’ Company, and the other donors