Silver coin hoard may rewrite Anglo-Saxon History

03/02/2017 16:41

Alfred the Great is a name that has resonated throughout English history for centuries, but little is known of his so called ‘rival’, Ceolwulf II of Mercia. A recent discovery of 200 silver coins, 15 silver ingots and 7 items of jewellery however, may help us to understand the relationship between these two leaders and uncover the hidden truths that lie beneath this fascinating period in ancient history.

The exquisite items were found by metal detectorist, James Mather in a field near Watlington, Oxfordshire at the end of 2015, but only recently has their true significance come to light. The main reason for this is the Roman-inspired ‘Two Emperors’ design which appears on a number of the silver coins. The detailed analysis has led historians to believe that the currency was used in two different kingdoms, and that a corresponding alliance existed between the two rulers. Coin curator at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxfordshire, Julian Baker, suggests that if these ancient kings were in fact allies then perhaps Alfred, who united Mercia and Wessex, owes some of his success to Ceolwulf. For director of the museum, Dr Xa Sturgis, the fact that history has very little record of him, implies that instead, Alfred "manipulated" his own legacy and “obliterated Ceolwulf” in his path.

The discovery has caused a great deal of excitement among historians who have been tirelessly investigating the hoard and will now be able to ‘rewrite’ this exciting chapter in Anglo Saxon history. Also interested in the hoard are the local residents who have been donating funds to keep the coins and jewellery at the Ashmolean Museum and by February 1st they succeeded, reaching their £70,000 target. Dr Sturgis commented on the good news, saying that "to be able to keep the hoard in the country and put it on display with the Ashmolean’s Anglo-Saxon collections, which include the world-famous Alfred Jewel, was an opportunity we could not miss." This really will be an exciting addition to an already stellar collection of coins and historic artefacts. 

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