'The re-use of coins in medieval England and Wales c.1050–1550: An introductory survey’, Yorkshire Numismatist 4 (2012), pp.183-200.

In medieval Britain coins found use beyond the monetary exchange purpose for which they were originally produced. Through the study of surviving coin finds and supporting documentary and archaeological evidence, this paper introduces the principal
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  183 THE RE-USE OF COINS IN MEDIEVAL ENGLANDAND WALES c .1050–1550: AN INTRODUCTORY SURVEY  Richard Kelleher  Introduction In medieval Britain coins found use beyond the monetary exchange purpose for whichthey were srcinally produced. Through the study of surviving coin fi nds and supportingdocumentary and archaeological evidence, this paper introduces the principal non-cur-rency methods to which coins were put and explores a number of questions: why werecoins used as the adaptive medium and for what purpose? What can we deduce from thetype, denomination and condition of the adapted coins? What do the various practicesoutlined below tell us about the relationships between people and money, display and piety, and religion and ritual? The material evidence The overwhelming majority of coins studied in the production of this paper result frommetal-detecting and are recorded on the PAS and EMC databases or published throughthe Treasure Act. 1 For all periods this material, made available online, is beginning tohave a serious impact on our understanding of how people in the past used and viewedmaterial culture and, in particular, on cumulative studies of single coin fi nds. 2 The  Acknowlegements. My research into coin jewellery would not have been possible without thegenerosity of Marion Archibald who made available her extensive archive of box fi les on thesubject and for which I am especially grateful. David Harpin and Philip Mernick have kindly provided images and information on a number of converted coins and jettons in their owncollections and elsewhere. Barrie Cook and Gareth Williams have provided information anddiscussion about particular pieces. Thanks are due to Tony Abramson for inviting me to speak and without whom a very welcome session at the IMC would not have taken place. 1 Two hundred and fi fty of the fi nds come from the Portable Antiquities Scheme (www. fi, ten from the Early Medieval Corpus (www. fi,twenty-four come from the Treasure Annual Report ( TAR ) and Portable Antiquities and Trea-sure Annual Report (PATAR) series, while the remaining thirty-two come from excavationreports and other published single fi nds. 2 Recent research projects exploring aspects of coin fi nds using the PAS database include PhD projects looking at Coinage in Roman Britain (Philippa Walton, UCL), Iron Age coinage inBritain (Ian Leins, Newcastle) and my own thesis on Medieval coins 1066–1544 (Kelleher,Durham). Other published papers using newly recorded material include work on Byzantinecoins, see Moorhead 2009. YN4 Chapter 12.indd 183 YN4 Chapter 12.indd 183 5/29/2012 7:24:49 PM 5/29/2012 7:24:49 PM   Richard Kelleher  184database from which the material in this paper derives consists of almost 18,000 coinsdating from 1066 to 1545 and forms the basis of the author’s current PhD research onmonetisation and coin use in medieval England and Wales. A part of that research con-siders the re-use of coins and it is that aspect of medieval recycling to which that this paper will now turn. The re-use of coins is an area of research which has yet to be fullydeveloped for the later medieval period and has so far only considered coin-jewellery. 3  I de fi ne re-use here in two ways: the fi rst is the purposeful alteration of a coin either byembellishment or by defacement or mutilation, carried out with a speci fi c purpose inmind (i.e. excluding coins damaged accidentally or by ploughing etc.); the second is the placing of a coin in a speci fi c context, usually to remain in such a context in perpetuity.The evidence for re-use in the past is visible in two ways. The fi rst relies on the coin evi-dence itself, where some physical trait indicates to us that a coin was altered to function beyond currency: this is most commonly indicated through traces of mounting, gilding, piercing, bending/folding or fragmenting. The second source of evidence is implied byeither archaeological context or surviving medieval accounts indicating ways in whichcoins were adapted. The material can be grouped into three categories (which are notalways mutually exclusive):1. Jewellery: Coins incorporated into larger objects for some sort of display or pro- phylactic purpose, usually obvious by embellishment or addition.2. Mutilation: This category includes coins which have been bent, pierced or cut andrendered un fi t for use as money in the traditional sense, instead marking them outas having acquired a new identity and purpose, obvious by removal or subtrac-tion.3. Special placement: In this category are coins excavated in association with par-ticular focal places, be it a structure, a feature or part of an ancient landscape.It is the ‘where’ which marks these objects as special and can include coins nototherwise showing evidence of having been re-used.The nature of, and patterns within, each group will be introduced and supported by acase study focusing on a particular facet of re-use. 1. Coin jewellery The term coin ‘jewellery’ is used here in the modern sense to describe objects worn for  personal adornment, either on the body (often in contact with the skin) or used to fas-ten clothing. Coin jewellery is present in periods preceding the medieval, for example 3 Short articles, usually published in response to small groups of recent material coming throughthe Treasure Act, have appeared sporadically: Robinson 1990; Williams 2001; Williams 2006:Cook 2008. YN4 Chapter 12.indd 184 YN4 Chapter 12.indd 184 5/29/2012 7:24:52 PM 5/29/2012 7:24:52 PM  The re-use of coins in medival England and Wales c .1050–1550: an introductory survey 185Roman coins are known mounted as rings or pendants. In the early Anglo-Saxon periodRoman coins (which must have been discovered as stray fi nds on old Roman settlementsor as hoards) were reused in several ways and are occasionally found in cemeteries.Base metal coins were often pierced and worn as amulets or used as weights, while pre-cious metal coins are sometimes found incorporated into elaborate pendant necklaces,such as the rich fi nds from Sarre in Kent. Fig. 1 plots all jewellery types by the reign of the coin on which the jewellery is modelled and reveals clusters of activity. 4 Fig. 1. Coin jewellery by reign (1016–1547)Two main types of conversion are present. The fi rst comes from coins of the rulers either side of the Norman Conquest and are de fi ned here as coin badges, 5 while the secondconcentrates on the reign of Edward I and tends to a form I de fi ne as ‘dress hook’. Thesetwo peaks in activity suggest that coins were converted largely within the issue date of the coin. However, a number of other transformations are also visible throughout the period with which this paper is concerned and are summarised in Table 1. 4 Items of jewellery based on non-English coins are collected under the contemporary Englishking. 5 Following the attribution put forward by Williams 2001. YN4 Chapter 12.indd 185 YN4 Chapter 12.indd 185 5/29/2012 7:24:52 PM 5/29/2012 7:24:52 PM   Richard Kelleher  186 TypeDate rangeof coinsSource of coinsDenominationsKnownexamplesACoin badge1016–1158Englandpenny30BPendant1028–1470England, Denmark,Byzantium penny, miliaresion,ryal6CAnnular  brooch 1 1217–1434England, Bergamopenny, grosso,groat4DDress hook1266–1317England, France, LowCountries penny, groat, gros,demi-gros36ERing c. 1115-(?) 14 th  centuryEngland, uncertainpenny, uncertain2 Table 1. Types and quantities of coin jewellery identi fi ed in the corpus (1016–1547).It was not just the badge and dress hook types which used coins as their basis; the rangeof known jewellery conversions is outlined below.Fig. 2. A Henry I BMC 5 coin badge from an unknown fi ndspot (disposition unknown). 7 A. With thirty recorded examples the coin badges are the second most proli fi c type andin terms of publication are the best served form of coin jewellery. 8 They are known us-ing coins from either side of the Norman Conquest and most commonly use Edward theConfessor’s Expanding Cross and Pointed Helmet types. Some earlier coins of Cnut andHarthacnut have been turned into similar style badges but it is uncertain as to whether these coins were older coins converted in the 1050s. Older coins are known in hoardsof the Confessor; for example the Milton Street, Sussex hoard contained coins of Cnut. 9   7 This coin was listed on an auction website as found before the 1996 revision of the Treasure Actand on the continent. No continental coin badges are known to the present writer, and in anycase Henry I coins are also particularly scarce as continental fi nds. It is a rarity in many ways. 8 Robinson 1990; Metcalf 1998; Williams 2001; Williams 2006. 9 Thompson 1956, 103. YN4 Chapter 12.indd 186 YN4 Chapter 12.indd 186 5/29/2012 7:24:52 PM 5/29/2012 7:24:52 PM  The re-use of coins in medival England and Wales c .1050–1550: an introductory survey 187That coin badges are known from either side of the Conquest reveals a degree of conti-nuity of fashion through this turbulent period, petering out by the twelfth century (seeFig. 2). This group consists of silver pennies, usually gilded on the reverse side to dis- play the cross. A pin and catchplate is either riveted or soldered onto the obverse of thecoin to create the means of  fi xing. Late eleventh century jewellery is generally veryrare, 10 so it is dif  fi cult to make any broad assumptions about from where the coin badgesdrew inspiration, or if they were an innovation in fl uenced by other forms of visual art,domestic or foreign.Fig. 3. Sven Estrithson coin pendant from Mildenhall, Suffolk (Image © British Museum). B. Pendants with loops attached rather than simply pierced coins, which are discussedlater, appear intermittently over the period of study, two come from the eleventh century,three from the thirteenth and one from the fi fteenth, and these use Byzantine, Dan-ish (Fig. 3) and English coins (see case study below). The surviving examples are aneclectic mix stylistically and chronologically, but share common elements. In all cases asuspension loop has been added, either by soldering or riveting, to allow the pendant to be suspended via a cord and these share some af  fi nities with the technology employedon early Anglo-Saxon coin jewellery. The examples cited here are all gilded, either onone or both sides, or, as in the case of the ryal pendant in the British Museum, use a goldcoin. The pendants also share in common a sense of Christian identity through empha-sising of the iconography present on the coins. The Byzantine miliaresion from ‘Warearea’, Hertfordshire uses the fi gures of the Virgin and Child, while on examples fromMildenhall (Fig. 3), New Romney (see below) and Ditchling the fi ttings are aligned tothe cross. On the gold ryal it may have been the protective meanings conferred by theinscription from the Gospel of Luke which was important. Ihc 0VT TR0nSIenS PeR äeDIVä ILLORV’ IB0T (But Jesus, passing through the midst of them, went His way:Luke iv. 30). This passage was used as a charm against the dangers of travel, particu-larly from robbery. 11 Whether this was the motivation for the selection of this particular coin is unknown, as other features such as imagery of the ship or king carry with them powerful symbolic messages. Case study 1 will further expand upon the features of aspeci fi c coin pendant. 10 Hinton 2005, 166. 11 Tait 1986, 213; Hinton 2005, 247–8. YN4 Chapter 12.indd 187 YN4 Chapter 12.indd 187 5/29/2012 7:24:52 PM 5/29/2012 7:24:52 PM
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