Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Sunday 21 April 2024

Sourcing silver for Anglo-Saxon coinage

The Mail Online and some other sources reported recently on an interesting and important piece of research published in Antiquity about the sources for silver used to make coins in England in the period 660-820. This divides supplies clearly between two sources and consequently into two periods, with the change happening around 750. Before that date the silver appears to come from Byzantine sources in table and similar ware. After the mid-eighth century the silver was being mind western France. That more or less coincides with the accession of King Offa of Mercia in 757 and his documented trading relationship with the Carolingians in succeeding decades.

The Mail article can be seen at Unravelling the mystery of England's Dark Age coins

There is a similar account from the BBC News website at Anglo-Saxon silver coin source mystery solved

Medievalists.net has a rather more detailed summary of the research and it can be read at Early medieval money mystery solved

This is an interesting piece of research not just in what it reveals but also in its combination of numismatics with archaeology, documentary sources and understanding of economic history both in theory as to money supply and in the reality of trade over long distances, together with modern scientific methods of analysis. As a result we have what appears to be a cogent and coherent argument that elegantly links together all the available evidence.

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