Cut halfpenny of William of Aumale

Photo: York Museums Trust CC By SA2.0
Issued by: Stephen
Denomination: Penny
Mint: York
Period: Medieval
Date found: 12/12/2023
Location: Burstwick, East Yorkshire


This cut halfpenny has been attributed to William of Aumale, Earl of York, a baronial issue during the reign of Stephen. Only two other examples in William’s name are known and therefore this is considered a Find of Note of Regional Importance.

Penny of William of Aumale

One of the two complete examples is held by the Fitzwilliam Museum

william of aumale penny
Image: Fitzwilliam Museum CC BY-NC-ND

The obverse shows a standing figure in armour and helmet brandishing a sword with the legend WILL/EAMUS.

The reverse has a pseudo inscription and symbols typical of the Ornamental York series. It is believed to have been minted in York in around 1150.

The design is similar to that of Eustace Fitzjohn who was a supporter of Matilda, the rival to the throne of King Stephen.

Lot 28 - Eustace Fitzjohn penny of York
Photo: Noonans

This penny of Eustace Fitzjohn was sold by Noonans in November 2020 for £24,000. It was found by detectorist Robert Brown on 15 August 2020.

The obverse legend reads EVSTACIUS.

William of Aumale

William of Aumale, also known as William le Gros because of his size, was a leading supported of King Stephen. So, possibly curious that he would use a similar design to Eustace Fitzjohn but also pragmatic as both coins were minted in York.

He was made Earl of York after distinguishing himself at the Battle of the Standard in 1138. He became one of the most powerful men in the north of England. He was a founder of religious houses and built a castle at Scarborough, in its present location. The castle was later forfeited that to King Henry II.