Sasanian drachm of Khosrow II

Issued by: Khusrau II
Denomination: Drachm
Mint: Shiraz
Period: Anglo-Saxon
Date found: 08/09/2022
Location: Wirral


A silver drachm of Khosrow II who is considered to be the last great Sasanian king of Iran, ruling from AD 590 – 628. Sasanian finds in Britain are very rare with only six others recorded at the PAS. This has been designated a Find of Note of Regional Importance.

Sasanian empire

If the idea of an accidental modern loss is discounted (some bumbling professor carelessly dropping pieces from his collection here and there) then this find provides further evidence of some form of trade link between the Sasanian empire and Britain in the 6th century. The discovery of Sasanian gems in Anglo-Saxon burials in Kent and Sussex provides further support for this idea.

The Sasanian Empire at its greatest extent c. 620, under Khosrow II
Image: Ro4444 CC By SA4.0

It is suggested that these Sasanian coins arrived in Britain via the Byzantine empire of North Africa and the eastern Mediterranean. There was an active trade between the Sasanian empire and its western neighbour and there is archaeological evidence that people who were born in Byzantine North Africa settled in seventh-century Wales, Northumbria, East Anglia and Kent.

In the seventh-century Byzantine Life of St John the Almsgiver a captain of a chip laden with grain tells a story of a voyage from Alexandria: “Then after the twentieth day we caught sight of the islands of Britain, and when we had landed we found a great famine raging there. Accordingly when we told the chief man of the town that we were laden with corn, he said, ‘God has brought you at the right moment. Choose as you wish, either one ‘nomisma’ for each bushel or a return freight of tin’ And we chose half of each.