Guest Post: Those Bloody Saxons!

King Ecgberht CoinGoing by the sheer number of spears and swords buried with the Saxons in the earlier stages of their time here on Earth, I’m sure they really were bloody. However, my reference to the word is perhaps more pertinent in its usage towards the later Saxons and their habit of cold-striking their silver flat pennies.

These coins are extremely brittle and can cause utter heartbreak to a passionate detectorist. In fact, just how brittle they are is sometimes beyond belief. I have witnessed them being unearthed, only to literally change colour and break into fragments. This has happened to some exceedingly rare coins over the years.

Agricultural practices have also taken their toll on this series of delicate little discs. Their glass-like fragility fails to withstand the wear and tear that so many other coins survive.

King Ecgberht Coin

Some of these flat pennies have been found looking like propellers, as the central bust-bearing disc has only a few fragments of protruding flan. The cracks have even been known to chase around the lettering, causing it to detach.

Of course financial value isn’t always the main concern. For example, the coin shown is a rare King Ecgberht issue. This king ruled from 802 to 839AD, and the coin was once in very good condition. Had it remained so, it may have fetched as much as £7000 at auction. However, it is still a remarkable discovery and most importantly, it can now be conserved and protected from any more physical damage. By photographing the coin almost in silhouette, you can see just how far the cracks have progressed. Yet one cannot help but wonder if King Ecgberht himself was pleased with the initial striking of these coins.

Even 800 years earlier, Roman die cutters had produced coins that bore some sort of resemblance to the Emperor concerned. I wonder then – whom was the die cutter of this little treasure, trying to convince us that Ecgberht’s eyes were so big?

King Ecgberht Coin

by Julian Evan-Hart

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About Julian Evan-Hart
Julian is from Hertfordshire, England and has always been interested in fossils and antiquities. Julian has written a number of books on metal detecting, and is an avid user of Minelab products.

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