Agnus Dei penny brooch

Photo: The Portable Antiquities Scheme CC By SA2.0
Object type: Brooch
Period: Anglo-Saxon
Primary material: Silver
Date found: 01/01/1980
Location: Essex


A silver gilt coin brooch dating to the 11th century. The coin is possibly a contemporary Scandinavian copy of an Agnus Dei penny of Aethelred II. It is a Find of Note.

Scandavian copy of Agnus Dei penny

In Keynes and Naismith’s ‘”The Agnus Dei Pennies of King Æthelred the Unready” they write “The Agnus Dei type provoked a number of imitations in eleventh-century Scandinavia. The bulk of these present garbled legends which offer no reliable clue to what mint or moneyer’s work might have provided a model

Modification of the Agnus Dei penny

Keynes and Naismith noted that of the 21 Agnus Dei pennies known in 2011, ten had been modified for jewellery. They say “Piercing coins for use as jewellery was not especially unusual in Viking-age Scandinavia, and so the fact that Agnus Dei pennies received such treatment should occasion no special comment. Yet the high proportion of pierced coins remains notable: … the rare and distinctive Agnus Dei coins seem to have lent themselves to decorative purposes.

© Spink

This pierced Aethelred II Agnus Dei penny was sold by Spink for £18,000 in 2018.

Treasure trove

The brooch was found in the 1980’s but has only recently been recorded at the PAS. Its discovery predates the Treasure Act and so comes under the old law of Treasure Trove. This old law specified that an object or objects had to be buried with intent to recover in order to qualify as Treasure. As this is more likely to be a single stray loss, it has not been considered to be Treasure Trove.