Thursday, 28 January 2016

The Lenborough Hoard Coins

According to notes from a public lecture at the British Numismatic Society posted by a member on the English Hammered [coins] List (26th January 2015), Gareth Williams gave some interesting preliminary information on the composition of the Lenborough Hoard. He notes that the man from the BM says it "was not possible to excavate it carefully given the number of people there". What an odd thing to say. Many excavations, including those run by the British Museum, like Sutton Hoo, have "large numbers of people present", but this is seen as an advantage in an excavation, rather than a problem. Hmmm.

As we know, the hoard was found in a lead sheet, there are other examples of this, but this was broken up in the process of extraction. It probably would not fit in the carrier bag.

The hoard was characterised as containing coins which were very well-preserved on the whole, most were well-struck and well-preserved but some were quite worn. There was a significant number of coins bent to a degree that seems deliberate, but there was no evidence of pecking on any coins yet - which is characteristic of 'Saxon', not 'Viking' hoards.

It now turns out that the hoard had contained two distinctive groups of coins. There were 986 coins of an earlier group of issues of Aethelred II (978-1016) possibly a savings hoard or several hoards from the 990s and first decade of the 11th century put together :
1 crux [991-997],
282 Long Cross [997-1003],
141 Helmet [1003-1009],
1 Agnus Dei mule [1009?],
561 Last Small Cross [1009-1017],
There is then a gap in the coins, there are no Quatrefoil coins of Cnut [1017-1023]
and no Helmet coins of Cnut [1024-1030] but then another cluster of coins (a currency hoard?) put together in a short period between 1020 and 1036:
there were 4263 Short Cross of Cnut [1029 - 1035]
a few Hiberno-Norse phase III issues, Long Cross [1036-1060] - it is unusual to find HN coins in an English hoard,
and there were no Cnut Jewelled cross issues [c. 1036].
The total is 5248 (including two cut halves) but some coins have yet to be cleaned and identified.

What a shame then, that the hoard was not properly excavated to see how these two distinct groups were concentrated in the parcel which might have told us more about how it was put together.

Although there were few coins of individual numismatic interest, there were some 'new mints' eg BYDIO, BYR, FRE, NVM, WATHI, WYDIO. There was a large number of mints represented, but very local mints were not heavily represented. There was a handful of coins of Buckingham, none of Aylesbury, but London was reportedly well-represented in both parcels while Oxford and to an extent Wallingford seemed "over-represented". There was a variation between the two parcels, southwestern mints were well-represented in the Aethelred parcel, while northeastern mints were quite dominant in the Cnut parcel. Williams noticed many recurring dies.

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