Detecting in the News – January 2021

A round-up of metal detecting stories in the press, with links to the original press article. You can comment on each article, where you see the green comment box.

January 2021

Centrepiece of Henry VIII’s lost crown found by detectorist

Also in The Sun

Detectorist Kevin Duckett has made a hugely significant find in a field near Market Harborough. It is one of the five gold centrepieces that were on the crown of Henry VIII.

Henry VII had altered the crown during his reign to replace figures of Christ with three sainted kings of England. One of these was Henry VI; the find is inscribed on the bottom with “SH” for Saint Henry.

Kevin took his find home and reported it to his FLO. It is currently with the British Museum. It is another example of how the work of detectorists have unearthed an important piece of our history, which would otherwise probably have been lost for ever.

The crown was used at the coronations of Henry’s children, Edward VI, Mary Tudor and Elizabeth I, and then of James I and Charles I (see below).

Charles I

In this painting by Daniel Mytens in 1631, Charles I is stood with the crown. The find is the figure in the centre of the fleurs-de-lys.

When Charles fled after the Battle of Naseby in 1645 his route would have taken him close to the find site. The centrepiece may have become detached and lost or may have been deliberately buried.

Cromwell ordered the crown to be melted down to be minted into coins. Parliament had valued the crown at £1,100.

Henry III Gold Penny auctioned

20 January, Daily Mail

This Henry III gold penny was auctioned on 21 January 2021 by Heritage Auctions, Texas, and sold for $720,000 (£526,000). This includes a buyer’s premium of 20%. You can view the lot here.

in 1257, Henry instructed William of Gloucester to produce this gold coin, which was worth twenty pence. Up to then Arabic or Byzantine gold or silver coins had been used when higher value coins were needed for commerce. It is considered to be the first true portrait of an English king on a coin.

The coin was unpopular and became undervalued compared to its bullion weight. Therefore most were melted down and is the reason that are just very few known examples. The auctioneer states that there are seven with three being in the British Museum and one in the Fitzwilliam Museum.

I believe there are eight known specimens, the last two are believed to be detecting finds. One turned up circa 1990 and the other circa 2006. A very high number were struck but most were speedily withdrawn from circulation. However, the original number was so high that it is only to be expected that a couple (maybe more!) were lost during the short time they circulated.

Detectorist finds unique King Aethelstan penny

19 January, Exeter Daily

A detectorist found this unique Aelthelstan (924-939) penny on 24 August 2020 near Bearley in Warwickshire.

The legend on the reverse reads ECLAF M’ON LYDANFORDA, which gives the moneyer and mint as Ecglaf at Lydford.

This is significant as prior to this find it was thought that the first coins minted at Lydford were issued by King Edgar in 973.

The coin was auctioned by Spink on 17 January and fetched $10,000 (£7,300).

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