Historic hoard may have been ‘a trade’

Some of the precious gold coins found in a field near Lenborough
Some of the precious gold coins found in a field near Lenborough

Little pieces of history have been seen for the first time as the UK’s biggest hoard of Anglo-Saxon coins continues to be examined.

The coins - believed to be worth more than £1 million - were unearthed close to Lenborough by jobless Paul Coleman in December.

Curator Gareth Williams, who is valuing the hoard, said most of the coins are common but an Agnus Dei mule coin is one of only 20 ever found.

The coins come from all over the UK - mainly from Lincolnshire and Yorkshire - but one has been traced to a Buckingham mint as it bears the name ‘Leofric of Buckingham’.

Mr Williams said the ‘substantial but not huge’ sum equates to roughly £21 – enough for 1,000 sheep or several years worth of rent on a Lenborough home back then.

He also thinks the ‘round sum’ could have been used as ‘a trade’ for something.

Unusually, the collection is a mixture of two hoards. Roughly 1,000 are from King Ethelred’s reign (978-1016) and the other 4,000 are from Canute’s reign (1016-1035).

At the coin launch this week, culture minister Ed Vaizey hinted Mr Coleman could waive the reward but Mr Williams disagrees.

Mr Williams said: “Many finders have waived it but having spoken to him, I have no reason to think that is the case with this one. I don’t get that impression. He seems to be a very sensible chap.

“We are working on the assumption that it will be treasure but the final report will establish its value.”

People can now see a small amount of the coins at the British Museum. Mr Williams’ report is due to be completed in April.