Guest Post: Foreigners in the Fields

Venitian Coin

It is not unusual for detectorists to occasionally find foreign coins here in Britain, from a few years old to several thousand. What is less usual however, is finding two separate foreign coins, both several hundred years old.

The first one fell into my CTX3030 and was a small silver coin known as Venetian Soldino. Often found around ports in the South, these little thin silver coins were not officially allowed to circulate during their time, but nonetheless they did.

This particular example is rather worn but recognisable as one of the Doges, Contarini, Venier, Steno or Mocenigo. Some may say it’s not too impressive and for the most part I have to agree. However, not only is it my first, I found it in Cambridgeshire, so it had obviously travelled inland. It dates from around 1365 to 1423.

Venitian Coin

At the same time, my co-detectorist had a signal about 200 metres away from where I was stood. Proceeding to dig, he excitedly called me over after having recovered another Venetian silver coin which is an incredibly rare find in the UK. This turned out to be a Grosso, struck by the Doge Giovanni Sorenzo and dates between 1312 and 1328AD, fitting it nicely into the same era as my own find.

The dates of these two coins coupled with the remoteness of the site added to our intrigue. Considerable numbers of predominantly earlier Venetian and Byzantine issues were brought back home by British and Commonwealth soldiers who had seen action in Italy and Middle East areas, and so pop up in back gardens all over the place.

Venitian Coin

What is most incredible however was that some years ago, 2500 miles away deep into Jordan and halfway up a mountainside, I discovered a coin almost identical to the one that my colleague had uncovered in Cambridgeshire. It probably doesn’t need to be said that finding such a coin in Jordan is as unusual an occurrence as finding one here in the UK.

That trip proved rather fruitful in the ways of coincidence as I also found a Turkish Army button from 1915 that had been manufactured just 40 miles from where I live back home in England. Metal detecting really is a fascinating hobby and never short of surprises.

Venitian Coin

By Julian Evan-Hart

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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