A Saxon coin brooch from Headley

A Saxon coin broochA silver penny, apparently of Aethelred II (978-1016), was found by a metal detectorist near Headley church. One side, divided into a grid, has been gilded and the edge of a small circular hole survives on a break which suggests that the coin was converted into a brooch, the fitting for which is now missing.

The gilded obverse is not otherwise recorded, and only elements of the reverse are known on a coin in a collection in Sweden (a large number of coins of Aethelred II 'the Unready' have been found in Scandinavia, having been paid as Danegeld to buy off hostile Viking armies during his reign). The reverse of the Headley coin tells us that it was minted in Shaftesbury by a moneyer named Aethelmaer. Either side of the central cross are the symbols for Alpha and Omega.

Coins converted into brooches first appear in the 10th century. However, as both sides of this example are unknown, the coin may be a fabrication, intended to be a brooch from the start, or it could be a pattern which was intended to be a coin but never issued. This coin brooch has been the subject of much discussion between coin specialists.

Single coins are not usually reportable finds under the 1996 Treasure Act. However, as this coin has been converted for use as a brooch it was a reportable find. Unfortunately, no museum was ultimately able to acquire it and it was eventually returned to the finder. Its present whereabouts are unknown.

The Portable Antiquities Scheme in Surrey

The Portable Antiquities Scheme is a voluntary scheme to record archaeological objects found by members of the public in England and Wales. Every year many thousands of objects are discovered, many of these by metal detector users, but also by people whilst out walking, gardening or going about their daily work. Such discoveries offer an important source for understanding our past.

If you have found an object which you think should be recorded, please contact Simon Maslin, County Finds Liaison Officer, email simon.maslin@surreycc.gov.uk.

For pictures and information about Surrey finds that have been recorded, please see the Portable Antiquities Scheme online database.

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