Auction News

Battle of Hastings coins are valuable find for detectorists


The Battle of Hastings depicted on the Bayeux Tapestry.

A hoard of silver pennies from 1066 could net their finders nearly £200,000 at auction.

The coins were found in Braintree, Essex, and may have been buried for safe keeping as William the Conqueror’s invasion of England approached. Some believe their owner may have fought on the losing side at the Battle of Hastings.

The collection was found by two metal detector users. Previous searches of the field where they uneathred the treasure had revealed only copper coins and common artefacts.

The first silver coin was buried under just 4-inches of soil. Although they couldn’t initially identify the coin they widened their search and started to turn up large numbers of the precious silver. It some became obvious they were minted for Harold II, the king killed at the Battle of Hastings.

A Harold II silver penny similar to those found in Essex.

In total 144 coins minted for Harold and his predecessor Edward the Confessor were found. The money comes from mints across the south of England.

The rarest in the find is a Hastings-minted penny. A matching example was sold last year for £20,000.

Some of the coins have already been sold to museums. The 122 remaining coins will be auctioned in London on Wednesday, February 21.

Coin specialist Bradley Hopper from auctioneers Noonans told the Braintree and Witham Times: “While the deposition of the Braintree Hoard might not relate directly to the events of 1066, the fact it was never recovered surely did.

“Twelve shillings was a considerable sum of money, and its retrieval must have been prevented by some great personal misfortune; we cannot say with any certainty whether or not the Braintree hoard’s owner died fighting at Hastings, but it is a tantalising possibility.”

Most of the coins are in excellent condition and the sale is an exciting one for British coin collectors.

Most detectorists dream of a discovery like this. And they do sometimes happen. In 2009, the Staffordshire Hoard of Saxon gold and silver was valued at £3.28 million. The 1992 Hoxne Hoard was found in 1992 and is valued at over £2.5 million.

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