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Seller: ancientgifts (4,549) 100%, Location: Lummi Island, Washington, Ships to: Worldwide, Item: 382544737570 "King Alfred's Coins: The Watlington Viking Hoard" by John Naylor and Gareth Williams. NOTE: We have 75,000 books in our library, almost 10,000 different titles. Odds are we have other copies of this same title in varying conditions, some less expensive, some better condition. We might also have different editions as well (some paperback, some hardcover, oftentimes international editions). If you don’t see what you want, please contact us and ask. We’re happy to send you a summary of the differing conditions and prices we may have for the same title. DESCRIPTION: Softcover. Publisher: Ashmolean Museum (2017). Pages: 32. Size: 8¼ x 8¼ inches; ½ pound. Summary: Written to honor the newly discovered National Treasure that the Ashmolean hopes to acquire in the not too distant future. In October 2015, metal detectorist James Mather discovered an important Viking hoard near Watlington in South Oxfordshire. The hoard dates from the end of the 870's (A.D.), a key moment in the struggle between Anglo-Saxons and Vikings for control of southern England. The Watlington hoard is a significant new source of information on that struggle, throwing new light not only on the conflict between Anglo-Saxon and Viking, but also on the changing relationship between the two great Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of Mercia and Wessex. This was to lead to the formation of a single united kingdom of England only a few years later. The hoard contains a mixture of Anglo-Saxon coins and Viking silver, and is in many ways a typical Viking hoard. However, its significance comes from the fact that it contains so many examples of previously rare coins belonging to Alfred the Great, king of Wessex (871-899 A.D.) and his less well-known contemporary Ceolwulf II of Mercia (874-879 A.D.). These coins provide a clearer understanding of the relationship between Alfred and Ceolwulf, and perhaps also of how the once great kingdom of Mercia came to be absorbed into the emerging kingdom of England by Alfred and his successors. A major fundraising campaign is being planned by the Ashmolean to secure this collection for the museum. CONDITION:NEW. New oversized softcover. Ashmolean Museum (2017) 32 pages. Unblemished, unmarked, pristine in every respect. Pages are pristine; clean, crisp, unmarked, unmutilated, tightly bound, unambiguously unread. Satisfaction unconditionally guaranteed. In stock, ready to ship. No disappointments, no excuses. PROMPT SHIPPING! HEAVILY PADDED, DAMAGE-FREE PACKAGING! Meticulous and accurate descriptions! #9061a. PLEASE SEE DESCRIPTIONS AND IMAGES BELOW FOR DETAILED REVIEWS AND FOR PAGES OF PICTURES FROM INSIDE OF BOOK. PLEASE SEE PUBLISHER, PROFESSIONAL, AND READER REVIEWS BELOW. PUBLISHER REVIEWS: REVIEW: In October 2015, metal detectorist James Mather discovered an important Viking hoard near Watlington in South Oxfordshire. The hoard dates from the end of the 870s, a key moment in the struggle between Anglo-Saxons and Vikings for control of southern England. The Watlington hoard is a significant new source of information on that struggle, throwing new light not only on the conflict between Anglo-Saxon and Viking, but also on the changing relationship between the two great Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of Mercia and Wessex. This was to lead to the formation of a single united kingdom of England only a few years later. The hoard contains a mixture of Anglo-Saxon coins and Viking silver, and is in many ways a typical Viking hoard. However, its significance comes from the fact that it contains so many examples of previously rare coins belonging to Alfred the Great, king of Wessex (871-899 A.D.) and his less well-known contemporary Ceolwulf II of Mercia (874-circa 879 A.D.). These coins provide a clearer understanding of the relationship between Alfred and Ceolwulf, and perhaps also of how the once great kingdom of Mercia came to be absorbed into the emerging kingdom of England by Alfred and his successors. A major fundraising campaign is being planned by the Ashmolean to secure this collection for the museum. REVIEW: In October 2015, metal detectorist James Mather discovered an important Viking hoard near Watlington in South Oxfordshire. The hoard dates from the end of the 870's A.D., a key moment in the struggle between Anglo-Saxons and Vikings for control of southern England. REVIEW: John Naylor is the Finds Officer at the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) based at the Ashmolean Museum. Gareth Williams is the curator of British History at the British Museum. TABLE OF CONTENTS: Discovery and Conservation. The Hoard. Coinage. Two Emperors Type. Cross-and-Lozenge Type. Two-Line Type. The Halfpenny. Carolingian Deniers. Other Objects. The Vikings in England. King Alfred and the Vikings. The Lost Kingdom. The Hoard in Context. PROFESSIONAL REVIEWS: REVIEW: Exceptionally competent review of this historically significant find. Great photographs, excellent explanatory text. Highly recommended. READER REVIEWS: REVIEW: Very informative. A good accompaniment for the museum exhibition. There's also been a recent BBC program about this too. REVIEW: Really fabulous. Great explanations, superb photos. ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND: REVIEW: A hoard of Viking coins could change our understanding of English history, after showing how Alfred the Great 'airbrushed' out a rival king. A Viking hoard discovered by an amateur metal detectorist could prompt the re-writing of English history, after experts claimed it shows how Alfred the Great “airbrushed” a rival king from history. Ceolwulf II of Mercia is barely mentioned in contemporary records and largely forgotten by history, only briefly described in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as an “unwise King’s thane”. But as of today, his reputation might be rescued after a haul of coins dug up after more than 1,000 years suggested he in fact had a powerful alliance with Alfred, ruling their kingdoms as equals. The hoard, made up of 186 coins, seven items of jewellery and 15 ingots, was found by amateur metal detectorist James Mather on his 60th birthday, after he uncovered it in a muddy field. A selection of the coins show two emperor-like figures, believed to represent Alfred and Ceolwulf, and are now known to have been produced extensively in both kingdoms. Speaking at the unveiling of the hoard at the British Museum, its curator of Early Medieval coinage said the discoveries gave a “very different picture” to the legacies set down in the history books, as he suggests it could counter the "very bad press" given to Ceolwulf II thus far. Gareth Williams said: “Here is a more complex political picture in the 870s which was deliberately misrepresented in the 890s after Alfred has taken over the whole of Ceolwulf’s kingdom. “Perhaps we should be thinking more of Stalin and Trotsky, with Ceolwulf being airbrushed out of history because he’s no longer convenient. That of course gives a very different picture of history of Alfred the great national hero, defeating the Vikings." The coins date from the late 870s; the only example of a Viking hoard from the era. Only one example of the double figured coin from each kingdom has been found previously, with archaeologists left unsure as to whether it was a “one-off” mint. The new discovery reveals how the coins were produced in both Ceolwulf and Alfred’s names, far more extensively than previously thought and in a number of different mints. “It sheds new light on a very poorly understood period in English history,” said Dr Williams. Poor Ceolwulf gets a very bad press in Anglo-Saxon history, because the only accounts we have of his reign come from the latter part of Alfred’s reign. What we can now see emerging from his hoard is that this was a more sustained alliance with extensive coinage and lasting for some years.” The haul, known to be Viking thanks to the style of jewelry, was found earlier this year in a field near Watlington, Oxfordshire, by Mr Mather, who has been metal detectoring as a hobby for 20 years. Mather came across it after a futile five hour hunt, moments after he had decided to call it a day and go home. Coming across an ingot he recognized as Viking after seeing a similar example in the British Museum, he went on to discover the entire hoard buried in the mud. After alerting an officer from the Portable Antiquities Scheme, he returned to check the hoard was safely in situ in the field four times over the next five days, until an expert could travel down. From there, a "haggis-shaped" mound of earth was removed intact, with the treasure inside, and transported to the British Museum in a make-shift wrapping of clingfilm and bubblewrap. Mr Mather, who joked his two adult children are now newly impressed by his hobby, said: “Discovering this exceptional hoard has been a really great experience and helping excavate it with archaeologists from the Portable Antiquities Scheme on my 60th birthday was the icing on the cake. It has been absolutely amazing. The range of emotions you go through, from shock to disbelief to joy – it all becomes a bit surreal.” The hoard will now be examined with a view to being classed as treasure, whereupon Mr Mather and the landowner of the field in which it was discovered will receive a significant payout. The haul has not yet been valued, but good quality individual coins from the era can fetch five-figure sums. It is then likely to go on display to the public locally, with the the Ashmolean Museum and Oxfordshire Museums Service already working with the British Museum to examine it. Ed Vaizey, Minister of State for Culture, said "Fascinating finds like this Viking hoard are a great example of the 1 million discoveries that have been unearthed by the public since 1997. “Sharing these archaeological treasures with the country means protecting them for future generations to learn more about our nation’s rich and complex past." [The Telegraph (UK)]. REVIEW: King Alfred’s Coins showcases the Watlington Hoard, a 9th century Viking treasure deposit unearthed last year just twenty miles from Oxford. The cache contains close to 200 coins alongside jewelry and silver bars, and may be one of the decade’s most significant discoveries for Anglo-Saxon history. The find, however, is in peril. The hoard is scheduled to enter public auction, at which point it may be split up and sold to private investors. Unless the Ashmolean Museum can raise close to £250,000 before the display’s close—31 January—this may be the last time these remarkable new discoveries are viewable to the public. The deadline comes as a result of the 1996 Treasure Act. The ruling stipulates that all findings potentially considered treasure must be submitted to a local coroner, where they are valued and offered to local or national museums. If a given museum is unable to meet the attributed price, the finder and landowner of the treasure deposit may choose to sell the find on public auction. The Watlington Hoard was submitted to the Oxfordshire coroners in February of this year and priced at a whopping £1.35 million. The Heritage Lottery Fund granted the Ashmolean Museum £900,000 for the acquisition of the hoard, alongside additional expenses for the find’s conservation and display. With further support from private donors and the museum’s patrons, 80% of the required total has been reached. More help is still needed, however. The hoard’s astounding value derives from its immense historical significance. The find’s excavation unearthed thirteen examples of the “Two Emperors” coin – a rare penny that depicts Alfred the Great and Ceowulf II of Mercia seated side-by-side, enshrouded by the winged figure of an angel. Previous to the Watlington treasure, only two other examples of the coin were known. This latest windfall is an unprecedented discovery for British Medieval history. The coin’s design throws doubt on previous understandings of Anglo-Saxon politics. Ceowulf, a mysterious figure in British history, was believed by many historians to have acted as a puppet king for invading Viking forces. Scandinavian raiders had pillaged British coasts since 793AD. Throughout the 9th century, their land armies conquered England’s northern and eastern kingdoms and instigated their own figurehead rulers. Ceowulf was believed to be one such individual. The “Two Emperors” coin, however, suggests the obscure king may have allied with the Anglo-Saxon Alfred against the Vikings, making his status as a political pawn unlikely. The hoard has further implications for Oxford’s history. Oxfordshire lay on the boundaries Anglo-Saxon Wessex and the Viking’s English kingdoms. Control of the county frequently exchanged hands. Dating of the Watlington treasure places its burial in the late 870s. This was a decisive period in British history. King Alfred’s defeat of King Guthrum’s ‘Great Heathen Army’ at the Battle of Edington in May 878 initiated the Anglo-Saxon’s reclamation of East Anglia and the Midlands. Early indications suggest the hoard may have been deposited by the retreating Scandinavian troops—as was common with coin hoards of that time—fleeing from the defeat at Edington. The find may, therefore, indicate toward the political control of Oxford during this contentious era. The hoard was discovered by metal-detectorist James Mather on 7 October 2015. Initially finding a small silver bar near the ground’s surface, the Oxford local continued to dig, unearthing a series of coins. Mather commented of the discovery: “Finding such an historically significant and valuable hoard is every detectorist’s dream...I sincerely hope the Ashmolean will be successful in acquiring this exceptional hoard and I look forward to seeing it on display for the inspiration and enjoyment of generations for years to come.” Director of the Ashmolean Xa Sturgis added: “The Waltington Hoard has a natural home here at the Ashmolean...we now have a rare chance to acquire it – for the local community where it was discovered and for all our visitors from across the world.” [Culture Calling.Com]. REVIEW: The Ashmolean Museum will be purchasing a treasure hoard dating back to time of King Alfred the Great. The museum, which is located in Oxford, has raised the £1.35 million to fund the purchase. Also known as the "Watlington Hoard", it was discovered in Oxfordshire, by metal-dectorist James Mather on October 7, 2015. It includes about 200 coins, seven items of jewelry and fifteen silver ingots. While the find is not particularly large, it is hugely significant because it contains so many coins of Alfred the Great, king of Wessex (reigned 871–99) and his less well known contemporary, Ceolwulf II of Mercia (reigned 874–circa 879). Among the coins discovered were rare ‘Two Emperors’ penny, of which the hoard contains thirteen examples, shows these two kings seated side-by-side below a winged figure of Victory or an angel. Prior to the discovery of the hoard, only two other examples of the ‘Two Emperors’ were known. The image on the coins suggests an alliance between the kingdoms of Wessex and Mercia. This, remarkably, challenges the accounts found in written sources which dismissed Ceolwulf as a puppet of the Vikings. The coins can therefore offer new insights into this tumultuous period of England’s history and allow us to speculate on Ceolwulf’s disappearance and what role Alfred might have played in his rival’s demise. "The Watlington Hoard is one of the most exciting and important acquisitions we have ever made,” says Dr Xa Sturgis, Director of the Ashmolean, “particularly significant because it was found in Oxfordshire. To be able to keep the hoard in the county 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.” The location and date of the find is also significant. Oxfordshire lay on the border of Mercia and Wessex, and Oxford was one of a number of fortified towns developed under Alfred in part to control the Thames which was used as an important route for Viking ships to strike into the heart of England. Viking forces moved both by water and land, and they likely used the ancient trackway known as Icknield Street which passes through Watlington, close to where the hoard was found. The treasures remained buried for eleven hundred years until James Mather made his discovery. On the verge of giving up after a frustrating day of finding nothing more than ring-pulls and shotgun cartridges, James chanced upon an object he recognized to be a Viking-age ingot. On finding a further cache of silver pennies close-by he realized he had discovered a hoard. In the days following, James, the landowner and archaeologist David Williams of the British Museum’s Portable Antiquities Scheme, explored the site and then block-lifted the hoard out of the soil so that it could be taken to the British Museum to be excavated under laboratory conditions. Here it was x-rayed to reveal the contents and the arrangement of the objects within the soil. The hoard can be dated by the presence of a single ‘Two-Line’ type penny which was not produced until the late 870s, after the Battle of Edington (May 878) between Alfred’s forces and the Great Heathen Army led by Guthrum. It is possible that the hoard was buried in the wake of this violence or during the ensuing movement of peoples. It is clear that the Watlington Hoard can reveal more about this important moment in the history of England and once acquired it will be studied and published by Ashmolean experts and conservators. The funds raised to purchase the hoard included a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant of £1.05 million, a further £150,000 from Art Fund and contributions from private individuals and the Friends and Patrons of the Ashmolean, the Museum reached its fundraising target within days of the deadline. Stephen Deuchar, Art Fund director, commented that “this is a major acquisition by any standards and we’re delighted for the Ashmolean and its visitors. It was a very focused and determined fundraising campaign and we’re pleased to have been able to make a significant grant towards it. The Ashmolean’s collection provides a perfect context for the Hoard and we look forward to seeing and learning from the many gallery displays it will make possible in the years to come.” Following a regional tour of the objects, the hoard will go on permanent display in the England Gallery with the Alfred Jewel and the Museum’s world-class Anglo-Saxon collections. This will begin on 11 February when the treasures will be put on display at the Oxfordshire Museum, Woodstock (until 19 March). In collaboration with Oxfordshire Museums Service, the Ashmolean will stage road show events around the county which will include talks, object handling sessions and displays of the objects at locations including Bicester, Faringdon and Watlington. The hoard will also be the focus at the Ashmolean’s annual Festival of Archaeology which takes place every year in July. [Medievalists.Net]. REVIEW: Historians say an entire chapter of the Anglo-Saxon period will have to be re-written after a metal detectorist found a huge hoard of coins in a field. James Mather made the discovery of 200 complete silver coins, seven items of jewellery and 15 silver ingots in a field near Watlington in Oxfordshire in October 2015. Its full significance has now become apparent. The find contained a mixture of extremely rare Anglo-Saxon coins and Viking silver, which provides a clearer understanding of the relationship between Alfred the Great, who ruled Wessex and his less well-known contemporary Ceolwulf II of Mercia. Some of the coins were minted with a 'Two Emperors' design, borrowed from the Romans, which shows that the currency was used in both ancient kingdoms. Coins point to some sort of an alliance in the 870s between Alfred and Ceolwulf. "This is an extraordinary find, one which re-writes Anglo-Saxon history," Xa Sturgis, director of the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, which now houses the coins, told Sky News. "The keeper of the coin room here came running up the stairs to tell me. The more they were excavated the more it became obvious how significant they are. These coins point to some sort of an alliance in the 870s between Alfred and Ceolwulf." While Alfred is often described as the king who founded England, uniting Mercia and Wessex, very little is known of his rival Ceolwulf. "These coins prove that there was a very real alliance between the two men at that time," added Julian Baker, coin curator at the Ashmolean. "That alliance hasn't survived in the historical record until now. Alfred manipulated history to put himself in a better light. To date, history has overemphasised Alfred's record and almost completely neglected Ceolwulf. "We can start re-writing that decade now, courtesy of the Watlington hoard." Mr Sturgis added: "Alfred is the only king in the history of England described as 'great'. But these coins show that in the 870s he needed Ceolwulf. It's incredible that we know so little about him and Alfred dominates everything. It's like he obliterated Ceolwulf." The Watlington Hoard, as it is now known, is on public display at the Ashmolean as historians begin the process of re-assessing that period of Anglo-Saxon history. [SkyNews (UK)]. REVIEW: REVIEW: Historians say an entire chapter of the Anglo-Saxon period will have to be re-written after a metal detectorist found a huge hoard of coins in a field. James Mather made the discovery of 200 complete silver coins, seven items of jewellery and 15 silver ingots in a field near Watlington in Oxfordshire in October 2015. Its full significance has now become apparent. The find contained a mixture of extremely rare Anglo-Saxon coins and Viking silver, which provides a clearer understanding of the relationship between Alfred the Great, who ruled Wessex and his less well-known contemporary Ceolwulf II of Mercia. Some of the coins were minted with a 'Two Emperors' design, borrowed from the Romans, which shows that the currency was used in both ancient kingdoms. Coins point to some sort of an alliance in the 870s between Alfred and Ceolwulf. "This is an extraordinary find, one which re-writes Anglo-Saxon history," Xa Sturgis, director of the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, which now houses the coins, told Sky News. "The keeper of the coin room here came running up the stairs to tell me. The more they were excavated the more it became obvious how significant they are. These coins point to some sort of an alliance in the 870s between Alfred and Ceolwulf." While Alfred is often described as the king who founded England, uniting Mercia and Wessex, very little is known of his rival Ceolwulf. "These coins prove that there was a very real alliance between the two men at that time," added Julian Baker, coin curator at the Ashmolean. "That alliance hasn't survived in the historical record until now. Alfred manipulated history to put himself in a better light. To date, history has overemphasised Alfred's record and almost completely neglected Ceolwulf. "We can start re-writing that decade now, courtesy of the Watlington hoard." Mr Sturgis added: "Alfred is the only king in the history of England described as 'great'. But these coins show that in the 870s he needed Ceolwulf. It's incredible that we know so little about him and Alfred dominates everything. It's like he obliterated Ceolwulf." The Watlington Hoard, as it is now known, is on public display at the Ashmolean as historians begin the process of re-assessing that period of Anglo-Saxon history. [SkyNews (UK)]. REVIEW: The British Museum has unveiled a hoard of coins found by a metal detectorist who alerted an officer from the Portable Antiquities Scheme and assisted with the archaeological excavation. The hoard contains 186 coins, seven pieces of Viking jewelry, and 15 ingots. Some of the coins depict figures thought to represent King Alfred the Great of Wessex, who ruled from A.D. 871 to 899, and King Ceolwulf II of Mercia, who ruled from A.D. 874 to 879. Ceolwulf II has been largely forgotten by history, but the coins suggest that the two kings shared a powerful alliance as equals. “Here is a more complex political picture in the 870s which was deliberately misrepresented in the 890s after Alfred has taken over the whole of Ceolwulf’s kingdom,” Gareth Williams, curator of Early Medieval coinage at the British Museum, told The Telegraph. The coins were produced in both kings’ names, and in a number of different mints. “It sheds new light on a very poorly understood period in English history,” Williams said. [Archaeological Institute of America]. REVIEW: Researchers from the British Museum recently unveiled a Viking hoard of silver that may rewrite early English history. An amateur discovered the treasure in a field in Watlington, Oxfordshire, around 40 miles west of London. The collection of more than 200 items, which includes silver coins, jewelry, and ingots, was intentionally buried in the late 870s A.D., during a tumultuous period when Anglo-Saxon armies fought to repel conquering Viking forces. In 878 A.D., King Alfred the Great of Wessex, the last independent Anglo-Saxon kingdom, finally halted the Viking invasion at the Battle of Edington. While English history portrays Alfred as one of the first great English heroes, the Watlington hoard suggests that one of Alfred’s rivals, King Ceolwulf II of Mercia, may also have played a hero’s role. Ceolwulf II is hardly mentioned in English historical accounts—and unflatteringly when he is—yet several of the recently discovered coins prominently depict Alfred and Ceolwulf II together. While a few examples of this minting have previously been found, this new discovery indicates that this coin was more widely produced than previously thought, and attests to a strong political alliance between the two kings. Experts now believe that Ceolwulf II may have played a significant role alongside Alfred in defending England, yet was posthumously “erased” from history by Alfred’s chroniclers. [Archaeological Institute of America]. REVIEW: An impressive Viking and Saxon hoard of silver and gold riches that was discovered by an amateur treasure hunter in October is being publicly revealed for the first time at the British Museum. The treasure trove is believed to have been buried during ninth-century A.D. war and upheaval in southern England. "The Watlington Hoard", as it is known, consists of more than 200 pieces including chopped up gold, silver arm rings, silver ingots and coins minted by King Alfred the Great of Wessex and King Ceolwulf II of Mercia. The coins alone, 180 of them, are worth up to £2,500 (US$$3,788) apiece, for an approximate total of £450,000 (US $947,000). On one side of the coins is shown an emperor’s head, and on the other are Kings Alfred and Ceowulf II seated side by side. They became allies to defeat the Vikings, though their realms had been traditional enemies. Later, Alfred annexed Mercia and called Ceowulf a fool and a Viking puppet. James Mather, a retired advertising manager, found the hoard while equipped with a metal detector on a farm near Watlington, and will get to share the value of it with the landowner. For more than 20 years, Mr. Mather’s hobby has been metal detecting. Last October he had spent a long day finding nothing important when he finally came across what he thought was a silver Viking ingot like one he had seen at the British Museum. He dug a hole and saw the big clump of coins. He filled in the hole and then called the local representative of the portable antiquities scheme to record the discovery. He told the BBC he went back to the field several times over the weekend to check on the find and make sure it was unmolested. The next week David Williams, the finds official, excavated the earth and lifted a block of clay that held the hoard, placed it on an oven tray and took it to London in a suitcase. A museum conservator, Pippa Pearce, said that some of the coins are so thin they can’t be handled by the edges. Whoever the original owner of the hoard was, he probably buried it in the late 870's, when the Anglo-Saxons began to push the Vikings north of the Thames into East Anglia. Prior to 878, the Vikings had been increasing raids from Denmark. The Anglo-Saxons began to re-establish their rule over southern England and won a decisive battle at Edington in 878. Experts have speculated that a Viking fleeing the Anglo-Saxons after this battle buried it on his way north, on the ancient road from East Anglia to Wiltshire and Dorset. The BBC reports that the British Museum’s curator of early medieval coins, Gareth Williams, said: “This is not just another big shiny hoard. They give a more complex political picture of a period which has been deliberately misrepresented by the victor.” This time in English history is poorly understood, he said, and the coins give insight into the coalition of Alfred’s West Saxons and Ceowulf’s East Anglians. The alliance broke up acrimoniously, and Ceowulf disappeared from history except in a list of kings that says he ruled for five years and a document recording Alfred’s insults. The treasure has been reported, per British law. The British Museum and the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford are in negotiations to purchase the hoard, and it is on display along with a 2010 find of more than 52,000 Roman coins found in jars at Frome, Somerset. So far in 2015 113,784 portable antiquities have been reported, including 1,008 treasure discoveries. [AncientOrigins.Net]. REVIEW: There is always something exciting about finding buried treasure. Most discoveries are typical of others at the time of concealment, but there are occasionally finds that shout from the rooftops, “I am special!” This is the story of one of those, and it generated more interest than most. I vaguely heard on the radio that a hoard had been found that “would change history.” However, it was not until nearly midnight that I got ‘round to browsing the papers. The Daily Telegraph had devoted a good half page to the find. Its headline read, “Enthusiast with a metal detector unearths Viking hoard and rewrites history of King Alfred.” The discovery was even featured in the editorial. It started by saying that perhaps with the exception of Alfred the Great, as he became known, it is hardly fair to expect English kings before 1066 to be generally well-known. It continued with a mention of one of Alfred’s contemporaries. “Poor Ceolwulf [II] got a dismissive write-up in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for feebleness in the face of the heathen (as the Vikings were known). Whether the latest find shows otherwise, no one can deny the effect of metal-detecting on our knowledge of our past. It is immense.” James Mather, who has been metal detecting for 20 years, found the hoard during October 2015 in a farmer’s field that had been used to grow cereal crops. The farm is located near Watlington, a market town in the Chiltern Hills about seven miles south of Thame, Oxfordshire. The announcement was made two months later during the run-up to Christmas, when the annual Portable Antiquities Scheme and Treasure reports were launched. Mather, a retired marketing executive from Reading, was searching with the farmer’s permission. He had been searching for five hours “detecting ring pulls from drink cans and shotgun cartridges,” he said with a smile. “I then found a silver ingot six centimeters in length, which I immediately recognized as being Viking. I had seen a similar one at the British Museum. Then after a more systematic search, I found the location of the hoard, 12 feet away.” Having received a strong signal that a sizable amount of metal was under the surface, he neatly removed an area of cereal stubble and with a trowel undertook a careful exploratory investigation. He soon came across a few Anglo-Saxon coins, but could see that there were compressed items that would need professional extraction. Mather immediately alerted his local Finds Liaison Officer from the Portable Antiquities Scheme. Unfortunately the officer was not able to travel to the site for five days. Mather took the loose coins home for safekeeping and secured the site as best he could, returning at intervals over the next few days to ensure that all was well. He said, “Discovering this exceptional hoard has been a really great experience and helping excavate it with archaeologists from the PAS on my 60th birthday was the icing on the cake!” A “haggis-shaped” mound of earth was then removed containing the treasure. Wrapped in cling film and bubble wrap, the whole was transported to the British Museum in London, where it was excavated. The coins in the find were examined by Dr. Gareth Williams, curator of early medieval coinage at the British Museum and also Dr. John Naylor of the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, who is the Portable Antiquities Scheme national finds adviser for post-Roman coinage. The hoard comprises 186 coins (some fragmentary) including some great rarities, seven arm rings and 15 ingots. The noncoin artifacts in the hoard are being worked on by Dr. Barry Ager, an early medievalist at the British Museum. The hoard is currently being cataloged at the Ashmolean Museum and the British Museum. It is believed that it was buried around the end of the 870s in the period following Alfred’s decisive defeat of the Vikings at Edington in 878. Following their defeat, the Vikings moved north of the Thames and traveled to East Anglia through the kingdom of Mercia. It seems likely that the hoard was buried in the course of these events, although the precise circumstances will never be known. Williams of the British Museum commented, “The hoard comes from a key moment in history. At the same time, Alfred of Wessex decisively defeated the Vikings and Ceolwulf II, the last king of Mercia quietly disappeared from the historical record in uncertain circumstances. Alfred and his successors then forged a new kingdom of England by taking control of Mercia, before conquering the regions controlled by the Vikings. This hoard has the potential to provide important new information on relations between Mercia and Wessex at the beginning of that process.” The bulk of the hoard comprises Cross-and-Lozenge type silver pennies issued by both Alfred and Ceolwulf. These coins are named for the reverse, which features a long cross with the moneyer’s name in its angles and a diamond-shape containing a small cross at its center. Dr. Naylor said, “In many respects it is these coins, from a numismatic aspect, that are the most important part of the hoard. Until this discovery only about 55 to 60 of these were known. Therefore the find substantially increases the number available for study. This will allow us to test the current understanding of the issue, as well as to further examine the relations between Alfred’s and Ceolwulf’s coins." "The study will also assess aspects such as the size of the issues; the mints which issued them based on the style of the engraving and moneyers, as the mints are not named on the coins; as well as their fit into the longer-term production of the coinage by looking at aspects such as the moneyers on these coins and comparing them to previous and subsequent issues. Potentially these new cross-and-lozenge coins will be important for our understanding the issues surrounding coinage in the later 870s.” However, the rarest coins in the hoard are the silver pennies, where the reverses feature two emperor-like figures ruling as equals. This is known as the Two Emperor type. Until this discovery, only two specimens had been published. One was issued by Alfred, the other by Ceolwulf. As only two examples were known, numismatists were unsure if the coins were “a one-off.” A full breakdown of the contents of the hoard has yet to be published, so the number of Two Emperors coins found remains uncertain, but three were shown at the press launch. The emergence of more issued by both Alfred and Ceolwulf, in the view of the experts, suggests that the two neighboring kings who were collaborating to defeat the Vikings also minted the coins. Williams continued, “Here is a more complex political picture in the 870s which was deliberately misinterpreted in the 890s. Perhaps we should be thinking more of Stalin and Trotsky, with Ceolwulf being airbrushed out of history because he’s no longer convenient. That of course gives a very different picture of the history of Alfred the Great, national hero, defeating the Vikings." "Poor Ceolwulf gets a very bad press in Anglo-Saxon history, because the only accounts we have of his reign come from the latter part of Alfred’s reign. What we can now see emerging from this hoard is that this was a more sustained alliance with extensive coinage and lasting for some years.” Sixteen years ago, the late Mark Blackburn, writing in Kings, Currency and Alliances, cites two mentions of Ceolwulf in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. The first is in the annal for 874, which records how the Vikings defeated Burgred of Mercia, who went into exile at Rome for the remainder of his life. It continues, “And the same year they gave Ceolwulf, an unwise [also reported as foolish] king’s thane, the Mercian kingdom to hold; and he swore oaths to them, and gave hostages, that it should be ready for them on whatever day they would have it; and he would be ready with himself, and with all those that would remain with him, at the service of the [Viking] army.” There is another mention in the annal for 877, after the Vikings had stormed Exeter but were bought off by Alfred. This reads, “In the harvest the [Viking] army entered Mercia; some of which they divided among them, and some they gave to Ceolwulf.” The phrase “a foolish king’s thane” requires an explanation. In Anglo-Saxon England, when a man is granted land by a king, he is elevated to the position of thane. This means a person not of royal or aristocratic blood, but above the rank of freeman. The implication is that Ceolwulf was not from the ruling classes, but that he had been unjustifiably elevated to a class for which he was unworthy by an undiscerning monarch. Then there are the unkind words that Ceolwulf was dependent upon the Vikings for his position and livelihood. So, what did his fellow Mercians think of this situation? Alas, there is no Mercian Chronicle. However, Richard Abels’ excellent work on Alfred the Great embraces Ceolwulf’s acceptance by his subjects. Abels’ suggests that he “may well have traced his descent” to the Mercian kings Ceolwulf I (821 to 823) or to his brother Ceonwulf (798 to 821). Abels points out that during Ceolwulf’s reign, he undertakes the usual things that an Anglo-Saxon sovereign did, such as issuing coins and granting land by charter. He adds, “His charters indicate, moreover, that he enjoyed support among the Mercian nobility and ecclesiastical establishment. At least two of Burgred’s ealdormen continued in office under Ceolwulf and frequented his court. Burgred’s bishops apparently found nothing incongruous about serving a king who had betrayed his — and their — royal lord and who owed his office to the good graces of pagan invaders.” Abels also refers to a regnal list from Worcester now in the British Library, that states Ceolwulf ruled for five years following Burgred. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for 418 states, “This year the Romans collected all the hoards of gold that were in Britain; and some they hid in the earth, so that no man afterwards might find them, and some they carried away with them into Gaul.” Needless to say, the hoards were discovered. A gold fourth century solidus from one of them was the inspiration for the Two Emperors penny. This reverse type has been interpreted in various ways over the years. In 1931, Sir Charles Oman maintained that both coins commemorated a pact between the issuer and the Vikings. A year later, George Brooke opined that Alfred’s version either marked his coronation (the second figure being his queen) or the accession to his brother’s throne (the second figure being Aethelred I) and marking their joint Victories against the Vikings. Oman’s view is that Ceolwulf’s issue marked his accession. In 1973, Dr. C.H.V. Sutherland wrote in English Coinage that “there is little room here for any theory that the ‘Two Emperors’ type could, by extension, reflect any accommodation between Alfred and Ceolwulf II.” Views of course change over time. In 1986, Philip Grierson and Blackburn wrote that the reverse of these pennies, “copied from a fourth-century [gold Roman] solidus was perhaps intended to commemorate an alliance between Wessex and Mercia against the Danes.” On Dec. 14, comments from two readers appeared in the Daily Telegraph’s Letters to the Editor page, under the title “One Saxon coin isn’t enough to recast history.” The first note was from Robin Nonhebel, a retired history teacher with a particular interest in early Anglo-Saxon history. While he found the feature about the hoard and Alfred having “ ‘airbrushed’ his rival from history” very interesting, he advised, “one should be careful about rewriting history on the basis of one find.” He explained that the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, “begun in Alfred’s reign, was a West Saxon chronicle until Athelstan King of Wessex, became ruler of a united England in 927. It is not surprising that its authors at Alfred’s court focused on Alfred and Wessex, not Mercia.” Despite the thane remark, he considers Ceolwulf probably had royal blood, but that he would have been seen as colluding with the enemy. “However, Alfred was a pragmatist,” he wrote. “Ceolwulf was powerful enough to defeat the Welsh, and an alliance of two Christian states against the pagan Vikings is not surprising. Aethelred, Alfred’s brother and predecessor, had allied with Burgred of Mercia and had taken an army to support the Mercians in 867.” Nonhebel continued: “Alfred would presumably have cultivated friendship with Ceolwulf as it was in his interests, and previous finds have shown similarities between the coins of both kings. Although the Chronicle is critical of Ceolwulf and writes little about him, many historians assume that Alfred did not share the Chronicle’s antipathy. The discovery provides support for this analysis. It does not ‘rewrite history.’ ” Nonhebel’s comments makes sense, but as Alfred was Burgred’s brother-in-law, he just may have had some anti-Ceolwulf feelings. Until the discovery of this hoard, only 13 of Ceolwulf’s coins were known, which really was insufficient for a full study. However, as Naylor commented, “The discovery of the hoard may help us understand some underlying factors better relating to any political or economic alliance between the two rulers. It may also help to shed some light on the status of London at the time these coins were minted. According to historians, what is now England’s capital should have been under Viking rule. However, based on the evidence of the moneyers’ names on the coins, a good number may have been minted in London, which would alter our historical understanding.” The second letter came from E.C. Coleman, a former officer in the Royal Navy who has written 10 books on a wide range of topics including medieval history. His letter is short and to the point: “The coin has nothing to do with Ceolwulf II and everything to do with Alfred’s Christianity. The scene is boxed in on three sides by beaded lines representing the pearly gates of Heaven. The haloed figures are God the Father and Christ with the Holy Spirit descending from above to complete the Trinity. The disc in the lower centre is the Earth, and the [crossed] bones above signify death. The image shows the world’s dead being judged.” Coleman’s interpretation of the coin’s symbolism is convincing, although I had never encountered a coin commemorating the Judgement of the Dead before. When I spoke to him, I was unaware that the design was based on a late fourth century gold Roman solidus. He explained that the two figures could not be kings, but represented Christ and God, the Holy Spirit completing the Holy Trinity. He explained that as in John 1:32 at Jesus’s baptism, Jesus saw “the Spirit like a dove, descending upon him” — the large winged figure above God and Christ he considered was a representation of a dove. “But why do crossed bones signify death?” I asked. Apparently when a knight died on a Crusade, his body was defleshed and his skull and two long bones were taken home for burial. “Crossed bones are the symbol for death,” Coleman explained. While Naylor found Coleman’s approach interesting, he explained that “the dove” was in fact the Winged Victory symbolizing Victoria the Roman goddess of victory. The “crossed bones” were in fact the decoration on the back of the throne on which the two emperors were seated as depicted on the Roman gold solidus. Naylor explained that the “Two Emperors” reverse of both Alfred and Ceolwulf was a direct copy of the Roman solidus, in the Anglo-Saxon style. Coleman was not convinced. “I think it was Sherlock Holmes who said, ‘Never ignore the obvious,’ ” he responded. “Alfred was a deeply religious Christian. Are we now expected to believe that he agreed to have a coin produced on which he is wearing a halo?” The halo was incorporated into early Christian art sometime in the fourth century A.D., and Alfred would have considered it blasphemous for him to be portrayed with one, Coleman maintains. Nonhebel reminded me of the rare Agnus Dei silver penny introduced by Aethelred II in 1009, featuring the Paschal Lamb on the obverse and the Dove or Holy Spirit on its reverse. It is believed to have been a solicitation to God to stave off the national calamity of heathens who were overrunning the country. He added, “It would not be surprising, therefore, if Alfred’s coins also were based on Roman models and that he, too, used his coins to demonstrate the West Saxons’ need of the wisdom of God in the presence of pagan attack.” Over the past nine decades, there have been many theories as to what the Two Emperors type of Alfred and Ceolwulf represent. One theory is that to the Anglo Saxons, they represented God and Christ, and the Trinity was completed with the winged figure above. The coin was a solicitation to God to save the issuers from being conquered by pagans. However, the fact that both Alfred and Ceolwulf issued the coins shows an alliance between two rulers against a common enemy. The two “emperors” are certainly not Anglo-Saxon kings. Work will continue on cataloging the coins in the hoard. The additional coins will help the experts better understand the development of both Alfred’s and Ceolwulf’s coinage and the relationship between both rulers. Whatever happened to Ceolwulf will probably remain a mystery. Abels merely refers to “the death or deposition of Ceolwulf II sometime around 879 or 880.” If the Watlington Hoard is declared treasure, the Ashmolean Museum and the Oxfordshire Museums Service will be working in partnership with others, and potential funders, to try to ensure that this important find can be displayed for people local to the find spot to learn about and enjoy the discovery. [Coin World]. REVIEW: Born in Wantage, Berkshire, in 849 A.D., Alfred became King of Wessex at the tender age of 21. Crowned in 871, he reigned for 28 years. Following the wishes of his father, Aethelwulf, he succeeded the kingship after his brothers, to prevent passing the crown to an under-age king when the country was under constant attack from Viking raids. Alfred was already battle-hardened when he came to the throne, having defeated the Danes at the Battle of Ashdown in 871. His army routed the invaders in a fierce uphill struggle but sustained heavy losses. In 878, the King Guthrum took Chippenham, Wiltshire, in a surprise assault. Using the town as a secure base, they struck out at Wessex and forced Alfred to retreat with the remains of his force. Copying the Danes’ tactics, Alfred created a fortified base at Athelney, Somerset. From here, he summoned an army from Wiltshire, Somerset and Hampshire and encouraged his men to use guerrilla tactics against the invaders. In 878 Alfred was victorious at the Battle of Edington, resulting in a treaty with the Danes. Peace was agreed on the condition that Guthrum was baptized and that his army would leave Wessex. Once peace was achieved, Alfred set about reorganizing Southern England’s defenses. By building a network of well-defended settlements and a new navy of fast ships, he ensured that his kingdom was better-equipped to repel future invaders. Alfred died in 899 at the age of 50, and was interred in Winchester, the burial place of the West Saxon royal family. [The Telegraph (UK)]. REVIEW: Born at Wantage, Berkshire, in 849, Alfred was the fifth son of Aethelwulf, king of the West Saxons. At their father's behest and by mutual agreement, Alfred's elder brothers succeeded to the kingship in turn, rather than endanger the kingdom by passing it to under-age children at a time when the country was threatened by worsening Viking raids from Denmark. Since the 790s, the Vikings had been using fast mobile armies, numbering thousands of men embarked in shallow-draught longships, to raid the coasts and inland waters of England for plunder. Such raids were evolving into permanent Danish settlements; in 866, the Vikings seized York and established their own kingdom in the southern part of Northumbria. The Vikings overcame two other major Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, East Anglia and Mercia, and their kings were either tortured to death or fled. Finally, in 870 the Danes attacked the only remaining independent Anglo-Saxon kingdom, Wessex, whose forces were commanded by King Aethelred and his younger brother Alfred. At the battle of Ashdown in 871, Alfred routed the Viking army in a fiercely fought uphill assault. However, further defeats followed for Wessex and Alfred's brother died. As King of Wessex at the age of 21, Alfred (reigned 871-99) was a strong-minded but highly strung battle veteran at the head of remaining resistance to the Vikings in southern England. In early 878, the Danes led by King Guthrum seized Chippenham in Wiltshire in a lightning strike and used it as a secure base from which to devastate Wessex. Local people either surrendered or escaped (Hampshire people fled to the Isle of Wight), and the West Saxons were reduced to hit and run attacks seizing provisions when they could. With only his royal bodyguard, a small army of thegns (the king's followers) and Aethelnoth earldorman of Somerset as his ally, Alfred withdrew to the Somerset tidal marshes in which he had probably hunted as a youth. It was during this time that Alfred, in his preoccupation with the defense of his kingdom, allegedly burned some cakes which he had been asked to look after; the incident was a legend dating from early twelfth century chroniclers. A resourceful fighter, Alfred reassessed his strategy and adopted the Danes' tactics by building a fortified base at Athelney in the Somerset marshes and summoning a mobile army of men from Wiltshire, Somerset and part of Hampshire to pursue guerrilla warfare against the Danes. In May 878, Alfred's army defeated the Danes at the battle of Edington. According to his contemporary biographer Bishop Asser, "Alfred attacked the whole pagan army fighting ferociously in dense order, and by divine will eventually won the victory, made great slaughter among them, and pursued them to their fortress (Chippenham) ... After fourteen days the pagans were brought to the extreme depths of despair by hunger, cold and fear, and they sought peace". This unexpected victory proved to be the turning point in Wessex's battle for survival. Realizing that he could not drive the Danes out of the rest of England, Alfred concluded peace with them in the treaty of Wedmore. King Guthrum was converted to Christianity with Alfred as godfather and many of the Danes returned to East Anglia where they settled as farmers. In 886, Alfred negotiated a partition treaty with the Danes, in which a frontier was demarcated along the Roman Watling Street and northern and eastern England came under the jurisdiction of the Danes - an area known as 'Danelaw'. Alfred therefore gained control of areas of West Mercia and Kent which had been beyond the boundaries of Wessex. To consolidate alliances against the Danes, Alfred married one of his daughters, Aethelflaed, to the ealdorman of Mercia. Alfred himself had married Eahlswith, a Mercian noblewoman, and another daughter, Aelfthryth, to the Count of Flanders, a strong naval power at a time when the Vikings were settling in eastern England. The Danish threat remained, and Alfred reorganized the Wessex defenses in recognition that efficient defense and economic prosperity were interdependent. First, he organized his army (the thegns, and the existing militia known as the fyrd) on a rota basis, so he could raise a 'rapid reaction force' to deal with raiders whilst still enabling his thegns and peasants to tend their farms. Second, Alfred started a building program of well-defended settlements across southern England. These were fortified market places ('borough' comes from the Old English burh, meaning fortress); by deliberate royal planning, settlers received plots and in return manned the defenses in times of war. (Such plots in London under Alfred's rule in the 880s shaped the street plan which still exists today between Cheapside and the Thames.) This obligation required careful recording in what became known as 'the Burghal Hidage', which gave details of the building and manning of Wessex and Mercian burhs according to their size, the length of their ramparts and the number of men needed to garrison them. Centered round Alfred's royal palace in Winchester, this network of burhs with strong points on the main river routes was such that no part of Wessex was more than 20 miles from the refuge of one of these settlements. Together with a navy of new fast ships built on Alfred's orders, southern England now had a defense in depth against Danish raiders. Alfred's concept of kingship extended beyond the administration of the tribal kingdom of Wessex into a broader context. A religiously devout and pragmatic man who learnt Latin in his late thirties, he recognized that the general deterioration in learning and religion caused by the Vikings' destruction of monasteries (the centers of the rudimentary education network) had serious implications for rulership. For example, the poor standards in Latin had led to a decline in the use of the charter as an instrument of royal government to disseminate the king's instructions and legislation. In one of his prefaces, Alfred wrote "so general was its [Latin] decay in England that there were very few on this side of the Humber who could understand their rituals in English or translate a letter from Latin into English ... so few that I cannot remember a single one south of the Thames when I came to the throne." To improve literacy, Alfred arranged, and took part in, the translation (by scholars from Mercia) from Latin into Anglo-Saxon of a handful of books he thought it "most needful for men to know, and to bring it to pass ... if we have the peace, that all the youth now in England ... may be devoted to learning". These books covered history, geography, philosophy and Gregory the Great's "Pastoral Care" (a handbook for bishops), and copies of these books were sent to all the bishops of the kingdom. Alfred was patron of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (which was copied and supplemented up to 1154), a patriotic history of the English from the Wessex viewpoint designed to inspire its readers and celebrate Alfred and his monarchy. Like other West Saxon kings, Alfred established a legal code; he assembled the laws of Offa and other predecessors, and of the kingdoms of Mercia and Kent, adding his own administrative regulations to form a definitive body of Anglo-Saxon law. "I ... collected these together and ordered to be written many of them which our forefathers observed, those which I liked; and many of those which I did not like I rejected with the advice of my councilors ... For I dared not presume to set in writing at all many of my own, because it was unknown to me what would please those who should come after us ... Then I ... showed those to all my councilors, and they then said that they were all pleased to observe them" (Laws of Alfred, circa 885-899). By the 890s, Alfred's charters and coinage (which he had also reformed, extending its minting to the burhs he had founded) referred to him as 'king of the English', and Welsh kings sought alliances with him. Alfred died in 899, aged 50, and was buried in Winchester, the burial place of the West Saxon royal family. By stopping the Viking advance and consolidating his territorial gains, Alfred had started the process by which his successors eventually extended their power over the other Anglo-Saxon kings; the ultimate unification of Anglo-Saxon England was to be led by Wessex. It is for his valiant defense of his kingdom against a stronger enemy, for securing peace with the Vikings and for his farsighted reforms in the reconstruction of Wessex and beyond, that Alfred - alone of all the English kings and queens - is known as 'the Great'. [Royal.UK.Com]. REVIEW: Was Alfred the Great Just a King that was Great at Propaganda? "The Last Kingdom" – BBC’s historical drama set in the time of Alfred the Great’s war with the Vikings – has returned to our screens for a second series. While most attention will continue to focus on the fictional hero Uhtred, his story is played out against a political background where the main protagonist is the brooding and bookish mastermind Alfred the Great, vividly portrayed in the series by David Dawson. But was Alfred the Great really that great? If we judge him on the basis of new findings in landscape archaeology that are radically changing our understanding of warfare in the Viking Age, it would seem not. It looks like Alfred was a good propagandist rather than a visionary military leader. The broad outline of King Alfred’s wars with the Vikings is well known. Oft defeated by the great army of the Vikings, he took refuge in a remote part of Somerset before rallying the English army in 878 and defeating the Vikings at Edington. It was not this one victory that made Alfred great, according to his biographer Asser, but the military reforms Alfred implemented after Edington. In creating a system of strongholds, a longer-serving army and new naval forces, Asser argues that Alfred put in place systems which meant that the Vikings would never win again. In doing so, he secured his legacy. It is a well-known story, but how accurate is it? Research by a team at UCL and another at the University of Nottingham into the archaeology and place-name evidence for late Anglo-Saxon civil defence presents a slightly different picture. Many towns claim to have been founded by Alfred as part of his plan for defending England. This idea rests largely on a text known as the Burghal Hidage, which lists the names of 33 strongholds (in Old English burhs) across southern England and the taxes assigned to their garrisons, recorded as numbers of hides (a unit of land). According to the list, under Alfred a military machine was created whereby no fewer than 27,000 men, some 6% of the total population, were assigned to the defence and maintenance of what has been described as “fortress Wessex”. Over the past 40 years, much archaeological evidence has been gathered about the Burghal Hidage strongholds, many of which were former Roman towns or Iron Age hill forts that were reused or refurbished as Anglo-Saxon military sites. Others were new burhs raised with an innovative design that imitated the regular Roman plan. It has been argued that the latter represent an “Alfredian” vision of urban planning. But the evidence doesn’t entirely bear this out. For example, in Winchester radiocarbon and archaeomagnetic dating suggests the new urban plan was probably built around 840–80, almost certainly, therefore, before Alfred’s victory of 878 and probably before he even became king. Excavations in Worcester, by contrast, show that the distinctive “Alfredian” street plan there only came into use in the late tenth or early 11th century, around 100 years after Alfred’s death. Archaeological evidence shows that many Bughal Hidage strongholds started as defensive sites which only later developed into towns. Sometimes this occurred at the same location, but in the case of strongholds at Iron Age hill forts, such as Burpham (Sussex), Chisbury (Wiltshire), and Pilton (Devon), more suitable locations for defended towns were sought nearby. While the general development of early emergency measures – where defence policy was determined by inaccessibility and expediency – are testimony to Alfred’s civil defence strategy, the more long-term development of purpose-built towns, around which England’s economy and administration became organized, only took place during the reigns of Alfred’s successors. The major strongholds listed in the Burghal Hidage have received much attention, but landscape research is also now helping to provide a fuller picture, allowing us to identify important early route-ways and river crossing-points. Place-names containing such compounds as Old English here-pæð or fyrd-weg, both meaning “army road”, are especially important. But place-names also suggest the existence of elaborate systems of beacons and lookouts, often spaced at regular intervals, visible to each other and to known strongholds, and providing control over important route-ways. Written sources and archaeological excavation confirm that beacons were in use in the early 11th century. Landscape analysis is also helping to identify the important mustering sites, crucial to mobilisation, without which the military system would not have worked. Putting all this evidence together makes it likely that Alfred the Great’s military innovations were part of a continuing development, that started in the eight century in Mercia and continued long after his death. Alfred built on existing structures, at first using what was already in place, such as hilltop defences and mustering sites of the eighth and early ninth centuries, but many of the most innovative developments in defensive organisation clearly occurred in the reign of his son, Edward the Elder (899–924). Indeed, the little closely datable evidence that can be gleaned from the major burhs, all points to a long chronology of stronghold construction. Alfred’s defensive genius lay not in the creation of burhs, then, but in the way he adapted earlier strategies to suit the drastically altered military demands of the Viking age. His first steps towards a reliable and more constant system of military service ensured the continuous availability of troops. But the glories afforded him in popular imagination as the architect of “fortress Wessex” no longer, it seems, stand. [AncientOrigins.Net]. REVIEW: Was Alfred the Great Just a King that was Great at Propaganda? "The Last Kingdom" – BBC’s historical drama set in the time of Alfred the Great’s war with the Vikings – has returned to our screens for a second series. While most attention will continue to focus on the fictional hero Uhtred, his story is played out against a political background where the main protagonist is the brooding and bookish mastermind Alfred the Great, vividly portrayed in the series by David Dawson. But was Alfred the Great really that great? If we judge him on the basis of new findings in landscape archaeology that are radically changing our understanding of warfare in the Viking Age, it would seem not. It looks like Alfred was a good propagandist rather than a visionary military leader. The broad outline of King Alfred’s wars with the Vikings is well known. Oft defeated by the great army of the Vikings, he took refuge in a remote part of Somerset before rallying the English army in 878 and defeating the Vikings at Edington. It was not this one victory that made Alfred great, according to his biographer Asser, but the military reforms Alfred implemented after Edington. In creating a system of strongholds, a longer-serving army and new naval forces, Asser argues that Alfred put in place systems which meant that the Vikings would never win again. In doing so, he secured his legacy. It is a well-known story, but how accurate is it? Research by a team at UCL and another at the University of Nottingham into the archaeology and place-name evidence for late Anglo-Saxon civil defence presents a slightly different picture. Many towns claim to have been founded by Alfred as part of his plan for defending England. This idea rests largely on a text known as the Burghal Hidage, which lists the names of 33 strongholds (in Old English burhs) across southern England and the taxes assigned to their garrisons, recorded as numbers of hides (a unit of land). According to the list, under Alfred a military machine was created whereby no fewer than 27,000 men, some 6% of the total population, were assigned to the defence and maintenance of what has been described as “fortress Wessex”. Over the past 40 years, much archaeological evidence has been gathered about the Burghal Hidage strongholds, many of which were former Roman towns or Iron Age hill forts that were reused or refurbished as Anglo-Saxon military sites. Others were new burhs raised with an innovative design that imitated the regular Roman plan. It has been argued that the latter represent an “Alfredian” vision of urban planning. But the evidence doesn’t entirely bear this out. For example, in Winchester radiocarbon and archaeomagnetic dating suggests the new urban plan was probably built around 840–80, almost certainly, therefore, before Alfred’s victory of 878 and probably before he even became king. Excavations in Worcester, by contrast, show that the distinctive “Alfredian” street plan there only came into use in the late tenth or early 11th century, around 100 years after Alfred’s death. Archaeological evidence shows that many Bughal Hidage strongholds started as defensive sites which only later developed into towns. Sometimes this occurred at the same location, but in the case of strongholds at Iron Age hill forts, such as Burpham (Sussex), Chisbury (Wiltshire), and Pilton (Devon), more suitable locations for defended towns were sought nearby. While the general development of early emergency measures – where defence policy was determined by inaccessibility and expediency – are testimony to Alfred’s civil defence strategy, the more long-term development of purpose-built towns, around which England’s economy and administration became organized, only took place during the reigns of Alfred’s successors. The major strongholds listed in the Burghal Hidage have received much attention, but landscape research is also now helping to provide a fuller picture, allowing us to identify important early route-ways and river crossing-points. Place-names containing such compounds as Old English here-pæð or fyrd-weg, both meaning “army road”, are especially important. But place-names also suggest the existence of elaborate systems of beacons and lookouts, often spaced at regular intervals, visible to each other and to known strongholds, and providing control over important route-ways. Written sources and archaeological excavation confirm that beacons were in use in the early 11th century. Landscape analysis is also helping to identify the important mustering sites, crucial to mobilisation, without which the military system would not have worked. Putting all this evidence together makes it likely that Alfred the Great’s military innovations were part of a continuing development, that started in the eight century in Mercia and continued long after his death. Alfred built on existing structures, at first using what was already in place, such as hilltop defences and mustering sites of the eighth and early ninth centuries, but many of the most innovative developments in defensive organisation clearly occurred in the reign of his son, Edward the Elder (899–924). Indeed, the little closely datable evidence that can be gleaned from the major burhs, all points to a long chronology of stronghold construction. Alfred’s defensive genius lay not in the creation of burhs, then, but in the way he adapted earlier strategies to suit the drastically altered military demands of the Viking age. His first steps towards a reliable and more constant system of military service ensured the continuous availability of troops. But the glories afforded him in popular imagination as the architect of “fortress Wessex” no longer, it seems, stand. [AncientOrigins.Net]. REVIEW: A team of archaeologists said on Friday they believed they might have found part of the remains of ninth-century monarch King Alfred the Great, one of the best-known and most important figures from early English history. Tests have shown that a pelvic bone found in a museum box is likely to have been either that of Alfred - the only English king to have the moniker “Great” - or his son King Edward the Elder. The bone was found among remains dug up at a medieval abbey in Winchester, southwest England, the capital of Alfred’s kingdom. The remains were initially discovered in an excavation some 15 years ago but were not tested at the time, and were stored in a box at Winchester Museum until archaeologists came upon them after a failed bid to find Alfred elsewhere. “The bone is likely to be one of them, I wouldn’t like to say which one,” Kate Tucker, a researcher in human osteology from the University of Winchester told reporters. The discovery comes less than a year after British archaeologists discovered the missing body of King Richard III, the last English king to die in battle in 1485, under a council parking lot in the central English city of Leicester. Indeed, it was the worldwide interest in Richard’s discovery last February that fuelled the search for Alfred, who ruled the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Wessex, an area which covered much of southern England, from 871 until his death in 899. Famed for military victories against ferocious Vikings who had invaded much of the north of the country, Alfred was buried at the Anglo-Saxon cathedral in Winchester but his remains and those of other royals were moved in 1100 by monks, ending up at the newly built Hyde Abbey. The abbey was dissolved in 1536 and the whereabouts of Alfred’s remains and those of other members of his royal family thereafter became unclear. Prisoners building a jail on the site in 1788 are thought to have come across the royal coffins, pillaged them, emptied out the remains and thrown the bones about. A month after the Richard III find, local historical group Hyde900 decided to exhume an unmarked grave at St Bartholomew’s Church located on the same site as the abbey, where a 19th century antiquarian believed the bones had ended up. However, tests on the remains of six skeletons inside the grave revealed they dated from a much later period. Despite the disappointment, Tucker carried out further research and came upon human remains at the museum which had been discovered in a previous dig near the location of the high altar at Hyde Abbey between 1995 and 1999. Tests concluded the bone, about a third of a male pelvis, dated to between 895-1017 and belonged to a man aged between 26 and 45. As there were no other burials at the site in the Anglo-Saxon period, archaeologists concluded it had to belong to a member of the royal house of Wessex, and most probably due to the age, to either Alfred or his son. “Who else could it be,” Tucker said. Rose Burns from Hyde900 said they were thrilled by the discovery of what the group had dubbed “the power pelvis” although she admitted it was not as dramatic as that of Richard. “It was disappointing that the remains in the unmarked coffin weren’t the full package,” she told Reuters. However, she said it did pave the way for further exploration of the site and the prospect that more bones could be found. DNA from Richard III’s remains were matched with descendants but Tucker said they might find it hard to do the same with Alfred. “We have had quite a number of individuals who have actually contacted us .. saying they are descendants of Alfred,” Tucker said. “There’s the potential that might be worth pursuing but it is a very long way to try and go back - we’re talking an extra 500 years further back than with Richard III.” British children know Alfred for a legendary story that, preoccupied with his kingdom’s problems following a battle, he burnt some cakes he was supposed to be watching while being sheltered by a peasant woman. Unaware of his identity, the woman scolded him for his laziness. However, more significantly, Alfred is regarded as laying the foundations for a unified England, and his passion for education and learning are seen a crucial in the development of the English language. “King Alfred’s significance in the history of this country cannot be underestimated,” said Professor Joy Carter, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Winchester. [Reuters]. REVIEW: Ceolwulf II (died circa 879 A.D.) was the last king of independent Mercia. He succeeded Burgred of Mercia who was deposed by the Vikings in 874. His reign is generally dated 874 to 879 based on a Mercian regnal list which gives him a reign of five years. However, D. P. Kirby argues that he probably reigned into the early 880s. By 883, he had been replaced by Æthelred, Lord of the Mercians, who became ruler of Mercia under the lordship of Alfred the Great, king of Wessex. On anthroponymic grounds, Ceolwulf is thought to belong to the C dynasty of Mercian kings, a family which claimed descent from Pybba of Mercia. The C dynasty, beginning with Coenwulf, may have had ties to the ruling family of Hwicce in south-west Mercia. Ceolwulf's immediate ancestry is unknown, but he is thought to be a descendant of Ceolwulf I through his daughter Ælfflæd. Ælfflæd was first married to Wigmund, son of King Wiglaf, and then to Beorhtfrith, son of King Beorhtwulf. Far from being "an unwise king's thane", it is clear that Ceolwulf was a descendant of previous kings. A number of thegns who witnessed charters under Burgred witnessed charters under Ceolwulf, and his charters were witnessed by Mercian bishops, testifying to his acceptance in Mercia. This year went the army (i.e. the "Great Heathen Army" from the Kingdom of Lindsey to Repton, and there took up their winter-quarters, drove the king (i.e. of Mercia), Burgred, over sea, when he had reigned about two and twenty winters, and subdued all that land. He then went to Rome, and there remained to the end of his life. And his body lies in the church of Sancta Maria, in the school of the English nation. And the same year they gave Ceolwulf, an unwise king's thane, the Mercian kingdom to hold; and he swore oaths to them, and gave hostages, that it should be ready for them on whatever day they would have it; and he would be ready with himself, and with all those that would remain with him, at the service of the army. The Chronicle was compiled on the orders of Alfred the Great, brother-in-law of King Burgred. This account is considered to be biased and politically motivated, written with a view of strengthening the claims of Alfred and Edward the Elder to the overlordship of Mercia, evidenced by a 2015 find of coins near Watlington, presumed to have been buried by retreating Vikings, that show Ceolwulf as a king and on some coins as Alfred's equal. Ceolwulf's kingdom is presumed to have been reduced to the northern and western parts of Mercia. In 878, King Rhodri Mawr of Gwynedd was killed in battle against the English. As Alfred was then occupied fighting the Vikings, and Mercia traditionally claimed hegemony over Wales, the English leader was probably Ceolwulf. In 881 Rhodri's sons defeated the Mercians at the Battle of the Conwy, a victory described in Welsh annals as "revenge of God for Rhodri". The Mercian leader was Edryd Long-Hair, almost certainly Ceolwulf's successor as Mercian ruler, Æthelred. Three types of penny have been found which were issued in Ceolwulf's name. The bulk of them were minted at London and of the type designated as Cross-and-Lozenge, which was also in use by King Alfred of Wessex. Ceolwulf's coinage appears to be closely related to that of Alfred of Wessex, and it has been suggested on this basis that the two kings co-operated against the Vikings. Simon Keynes and the numismatist Mark Blackburn initially suggested that in about 875, Alfred was the sole recognized ruler in London, while Ceolwulf's involvement would have come about only towards the end of his reign, 879. However, in 1998, the same year that their discussion was published, another Cross-and-Lozenge penny struck in Ceolwulf's name came to light, which appears to be contemporary with Alfred's earliest coinage. In October 2015, the “Watlington Hoard” of coins, jewelry and silver ingots was found near Watlington, Oxfordshire. The find, dating back to the 870s, included coins carrying the image of two Roman emperors accompanied by the name of either Alfred or Ceolwulf. [Wikipedia]. REVIEW: Ceolwulf II (died circa 879 A.D.) was the last king of independent Mercia. He succeeded Burgred of Mercia who was deposed by the Vikings in 874. His reign is generally dated 874 to 879 based on a Mercian regnal list which gives him a reign of five years. However, D. P. Kirby argues that he probably reigned into the early 880s. By 883, he had been replaced by Æthelred, Lord of the Mercians, who became ruler of Mercia under the lordship of Alfred the Great, king of Wessex. On anthroponymic grounds, Ceolwulf is thought to belong to the C dynasty of Mercian kings, a family which claimed descent from Pybba of Mercia. The C dynasty, beginning with Coenwulf, may have had ties to the ruling family of Hwicce in south-west Mercia. Ceolwulf's immediate ancestry is unknown, but he is thought to be a descendant of Ceolwulf I through his daughter Ælfflæd. Ælfflæd was first married to Wigmund, son of King Wiglaf, and then to Beorhtfrith, son of King Beorhtwulf. Far from being "an unwise king's thane", it is clear that Ceolwulf was a descendant of previous kings. A number of thegns who witnessed charters under Burgred witnessed charters under Ceolwulf, and his charters were witnessed by Mercian bishops, testifying to his acceptance in Mercia. This year went the army (i.e. the "Great Heathen Army" from the Kingdom of Lindsey to Repton, and there took up their winter-quarters, drove the king (i.e. of Mercia), Burgred, over sea, when he had reigned about two and twenty winters, and subdued all that land. He then went to Rome, and there remained to the end of his life. And his body lies in the church of Sancta Maria, in the school of the English nation. And the same year they gave Ceolwulf, an unwise king's thane, the Mercian kingdom to hold; and he swore oaths to them, and gave hostages, that it should be ready for them on whatever day they would have it; and he would be ready with himself, and with all those that would remain with him, at the service of the army. The Chronicle was compiled on the orders of Alfred the Great, brother-in-law of King Burgred. This account is considered to be biased and politically motivated, written with a view of strengthening the claims of Alfred and Edward the Elder to the overlordship of Mercia, evidenced by a 2015 find of coins near Watlington, presumed to have been buried by retreating Vikings, that show Ceolwulf as a king and on some coins as Alfred's equal. Ceolwulf's kingdom is presumed to have been reduced to the northern and western parts of Mercia. In 878, King Rhodri Mawr of Gwynedd was killed in battle against the English. As Alfred was then occupied fighting the Vikings, and Mercia traditionally claimed hegemony over Wales, the English leader was probably Ceolwulf. In 881 Rhodri's sons defeated the Mercians at the Battle of the Conwy, a victory described in Welsh annals as "revenge of God for Rhodri". The Mercian leader was Edryd Long-Hair, almost certainly Ceolwulf's successor as Mercian ruler, Æthelred. Three types of penny have been found which were issued in Ceolwulf's name. The bulk of them were minted at London and of the type designated as Cross-and-Lozenge, which was also in use by King Alfred of Wessex. Ceolwulf's coinage appears to be closely related to that of Alfred of Wessex, and it has been suggested on this basis that the two kings co-operated against the Vikings. Simon Keynes and the numismatist Mark Blackburn initially suggested that in about 875, Alfred was the sole recognized ruler in London, while Ceolwulf's involvement would have come about only towards the end of his reign, 879. However, in 1998, the same year that their discussion was published, another Cross-and-Lozenge penny struck in Ceolwulf's name came to light, which appears to be contemporary with Alfred's earliest coinage. In October 2015, the “Watlington Hoard” of coins, jewelry and silver ingots was found near Watlington, Oxfordshire. The find, dating back to the 870s, included coins carrying the image of two Roman emperors accompanied by the name of either Alfred or Ceolwulf. [Wikipedia]. REVIEW: REVIEW: Coinage in Anglo-Saxon England refers to the use of coins, either for monetary value or for other purposes, in Anglo-Saxon England during the early Medieval period. Archaeologists have uncovered large quantities of coins dating to the Anglo-Saxon period, either from hoards or stray finds, making them one of the most plentiful kinds of artefact that survive from this period. Anglo-Saxonist M.A.S. Blackburn noted that they provide "a valuable source of evidence for economic, administrative and political history." Early in the 5th century CE, when Britannia, broadly comprising what is now England and Wales, ceased to be a province of the Roman Empire, the production of coinage effectively came to an end and a non-monetary economy developed. During the 5th century, Anglo-Saxon tribal groups from continental Europe migrated to central and southern Britain, introducing their own language, polytheistic religion and culture. Although gold coins from continental Europe were traded into Anglo-Saxon England, they were initially used for decorative purposes, only beginning to be used as money in the latter part of the 6th century. It was around this time that the first Anglo-Saxon coins were produced, although sustained production would not appear until the 630s. These were small, gold coins, called scillingas (shillings) in surviving Anglo-Saxon law codes, although they have since been referred to as thrymsas by numismatists. Modelled on coins produced at the same time in Merovingian Francia – geographically the rough equivalent of modern France – these early Anglo-Saxon gold shillings were often inscribed with words borrowed from either Merovingian or Roman coinage, although examples have been found which instead bear such names as those of King Eadbald of Kent, the moneyers Witmen and Pada, or the names of mints in London and Canterbury. Small, thick, silver coins known as sceattas were also produced in England, as well as in Germanic continental areas of the North Sea coast, from about 680 to 750, bearing designs which featured a wide range of iconography. In about 675 the gold shilling was superseded by the silver pening, or penny, amongst the Anglo-Saxons, and this would remain the principal English monetary denomination until the mid-14th century, during the Late Medieval period. Early silver pennies were typically decorated with geometric or pictoral designs, occasionally having the name of the moneyer inscribed on them. More rarely, coins produced in the kingdoms of Northumbria and East Anglia bore the names of monarchs. In the latter part of the 8th century a new style of silver penny appeared in Anglo-Saxon England, thinner and commonly bearing the names of both the king and the moneyer who had struck it. This new type of penny was apparently first introduced in the reign of the Mercian King Offa in about 760. From the 9th century, monarchs and their governments gained greater power over the control of coin production, and the designs used by different moneyers became standardised. In the 860s, the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of Mercia and Wessex formed a monetary alliance by which coinage of a common design could circulate through both of their lands. REVIEW: REVIEW: REVIEW: REVIEW: Maybe you pictured Viking raiders numbering in the dozens or hundreds, making a beachhead in the middle of the night to do lightning-fast strikes onto English soil, taking riches and women and then stealing away back to Scandinavia. While that was true of many Vikings, archaeologists have uncovered evidence of a huge army encampment on English soil in Lincolnshire in the 9th century that was established to conquer England. The camp, set up for the winter of 872 to 873 A.D., was home to thousands of Vikings, says a press release on the Sheffield University website. This army was known as the Great Heathen Army in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle of 865 A.D. Previous Viking invasions were hit and run, but this one was meant to conquer the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. This army remained in England for 10 years, conquering all the kingdoms except Wessex. In 871, Alfred the Great of Essex paid the Vikings to leave. In 875, the Vikings attacked Wessex, but King Alfred defeated the Great Heathen Army. The Viking camp was on the banks of the River Trent in Torksey and was a strategic and defensive outpost in the winter for part of the military campaign. Researchers from the universities of Sheffield and York did the studies which determined that Viking warriors, women and children by the thousands lived in tents on the site. Researchers determined the Vikings repaired ships, played games, melted loot of gold and silver to use in trade, and manufactured things they needed. The size and location of the camp had been debated for years, but the new research located it precisely and revealed it was at least 55 hectares (135 acres). That is bigger than even some cities of the time, including York, the press release states. The press release quotes chief researcher Professor Dawn Hadley of the University of Sheffield Department of Archaeology as saying: "‘The Vikings’ camp at Torksey was much more than just a handful of hardy warriors – this was a huge base, larger than most contemporary towns, complete with traders, families, feasting, and entertainment. From what has been found at the site, we know they were repairing their boats there and melting down looted gold and silver to make ingots – or bars of metal they used to trade. Metal detectorists have also found more than 300 lead game pieces, suggesting the Vikings, including, women and children, were spending a lot of time playing games to pass the time, waiting for spring and the start of their next offensive." Metal detectorists and archaeologists have found more than 300 coins and more than 50 pieces of chopped up silver, including brooch fragments and ingots. They have also found rare hack-gold or chopped up gold. Among the coins are 100 Arabic silver coins that researchers assume came to the site from Viking trade routes. Other artifacts include 300 gaming pieces, spindle whorls, fishing weights, needles and iron tools. Researchers at the University of York have developed a virtual reality show to give some perspective on what life was like in the Viking army camp. The scenes in the show are based on actual objects that archaeologists and metal detectorists have found at the camp in Torksey. The shows opens today (May 19, 2017) at Yorkshire Museum. Professor Julian Richards of the Department of Archaeology at the University of York said: “These extraordinary images offer a fascinating snap shot of life at a time of great upheaval in Britain. The Vikings had previously often raided exposed coastal monasteries and returned to Scandinavia in winter, but in the later ninth century they came in larger numbers, and decided to stay. This sent a very clear message that they now planned not only to loot and raid – but to control and conquer.” [AncientOrigins.Net]. REVIEW: Vikings in history and popular culture are known as strong and dangerous, bloodthirsty killers, raiders, pillagers – pirates of land and sea. But who were the Vikings, and what were the causes of their raids across Northern Europe during the Viking Age? Viking Raids of England In 835 A.D., Danish Vikings began their raids along the English coasts. As the years went on, the raids grew in size. In 838 , a large body of Vikings landed in Cornwall, and was joined by Cornish rebels, but they were soon defeated by King Egbert of Wessex at Hingston Down, by the river Tamar. The Vikings continued their raids on England in both 841 and 844. However, in 851 the Vikings came in even larger numbers. Three hundred and fifty Viking ships anchored in the Thames—and when they stepped ashore, they burnt Canterbury and London. King Beorhtwulf of Mercia tried to beat back the Vikings but was defeated and fled the field of battle. The Viking victory over Beorthtwulf allowed King Aethelwulf of Wessex enough time to assemble his forces. Once the Vikings re-crossed the Thames, Arthelwulf “fought against them at Acleah, and there made the greatest slaughter of heathen host.” While a great victory was had, and the raids ended temporarily, it was just the beginning of more to come. In 865 A.D., seven years after Arthelwulf’s death, the Danes had been raiding the coasts and were preparing for a large invasion headed by Ragnar Lothbrok, Ivar the Boneless, Halfdan, and perhaps Ubbi, along with lesser kings and Jarls. The Great Viking army disembarked in East Anglia. Their mission was to preceded northward with the intent to overthrow the kings of Northumbria and occupy the Vale of York, which they accomplished in 866. Northumbria was devastated, but not defeated, since some native rulers held out in Bernicia. The Vikings, seeking more wealth, made their way south, placing relentless pressure on Merica; they quickly succumbed to the Viking pressure and paid a ransom (Danegeld), and did so again in 869. Looking to expand their sphere of influence, the Vikings then headed towards East Anglia, then ruled by King Edmund, where they defeated and killed him in November 869, along with handily crushing Anglo-Saxon resistance at Hoxne and Suffolk. With East Mercia and Anglia under Danish control, they moved further into the rich, untouched areas of England. Late 870, the Vikings, led by Halfdan, moved into Reading, where they quickly set up a fortified camp to pillage the region. Even though the Vikings won many victories, they were beaten by King Aethelred I and his brother Alfred in 871. However, the victory was short lived; the Vikings continued to place pressure on Wessex, causing Alfred, who succeeded his brother, to deciding on paying the Danegeld. Even though Alfred agreed to pay the ransom, the many hard-fought battles between the two forces saved Wessex from further encroachments. While Wessex was safe for the time being, Mercia fell hard. The Viking army moved from base to base in Mercia from Reading, London, Torkey, Repton, and Cambridge. However, it was at Repton around 874 that King Burgred fled his kingdom and left it in the hands of the Viking Ceolwulf. In the few years since the Vikings had arrived in England, they had nearly taken the entire country. With Northumbria, East Anglia, and Mercia under their control, Ceolwulf wanted more. He wanted the entire island! REVIEW: While her name is a mouthful, and quite a convoluted one at that, Æthelflæd of Mercia's role in early medieval England is rather straightforward. More importantly, the part she played in the conquest of the Danelaw (the Viking dominated region of England) is imperative to the historical tale of Britain. The eldest daughter of Alfred the Great—one of only three British rulers given such a profound epithet—Æthelflæd was not merely the daughter and wife of two astoundingly capable kings; she was as valued and looked upon as the legitimate queen following the death of her father and husband. This is the only instance of female ascension in the history of royals in Anglo-Saxon England. Æthelflæd grew up in a world divided. Born to an Anglo-Saxon king, the Vikings were at the height of their conquering spree in England and she married into a family constantly battling the Vikings who wanted their territory. By the time of her birth, the Great Heathen Army had already come to East Anglia and conquered them, as well as Northumbria. Her father fought against the Vikings when Ivar the Boneless led the northerners into Mercia, aiding Æthelflæd's future husband Æthelred. During these numerous skirmishes, her father—Alfred the Great—rose to become king of Wessex. By 883, Æthelred ruled Mercia under Alfred the Great's command. Her marriage was in fact a strategic political move by her father to ensure the English kingdoms who survived the Viking invasions remained loyal to one another, in the hopes of eventually ridding their lands of the northern presence. Though a woman, Æthelflæd had a significant role in the protection of the English from the Vikings. In the 9th and 10th centuries, when Æthelflæd lived and ruled, modern day England was broken down into various smaller, independent kingdoms which, themselves, were divided into tribes. Among the most prominently valued by historians are East Anglia, Mercia, Northumbria, Wessex and Gwynedd, among others. This period was also a time of furious Viking invasions, the Viking period having begun with the pillaging of Lindisfarne in 793 and continuing throughout the 11th century. Thus, Æthelflæd lived around the mid-point of these Viking invasions. She and her brother were tasked by Alfred the Great with ensuring the continuous building of fortified structures called ‘burhs’. The idea behind these burhs was to create a strategic network of defenses against the Vikings that the English could easily reach and move between. These burhs were both reused Iron Age or Roman fortifications and brand new structures commissioned by either Alfred or his children. Æthelflæd herself is attributed with directly instigating the burhs at such locations as Tamworth and Stafford, the former significant from Roman times onward, while the latter was founded by a Mercian prince in the 8th century. Stafford in particular holds interest to scholars of Æthelflæd, "Lady of the Mercians", as she commandeered it after both her father and husband died, securing the city as a prime military base. This new role as "Lady of the Mercians" was in essence an acknowledgement of her queenship following the death of her husband, allowed due to Mercian traditions, not her native Wessex ones. Not only was the Lady gaining territory in her own name rather than her and her husband's, Æthelflæd also led many of her Mercian armies into battle, aiding her brother's attempts to displace the southern Danes by splitting the focus of the Vikings armies. That Æthelflæd succeeded in defeating various Viking armies is a feat in and of itself for a medieval woman. That she did so without a husband, without her father or brother's aid, and with the full support of her Mercian people speaks volumes of the impact Æthelflæd had on the lives and events of 10th century Mercia and Wessex. It is a testament both to her upbringing and her individual intellect and pride. Tamworth and Stafford remain two valued locations in modern day England, and thus stand as monuments to the woman who procured them as powerful military command centers against the Viking invaders. Though Æthelflæd graced no coinage in her time, her actions graced her native and wedded kingdoms in aiding in the safety of her people. [Ancient Origins.Net] . REVIEW: Members of a metal detecting club discovered a lead bucket filled with more than 5,000 silver Anglo-Saxon coins in December of 2014. The coins, which feature the faces of Anglo-Saxon kings, including Ethelred the Unready and Canute, had been covered with two feet of earth. “They’re like mirrors, no scratching, and buried really carefully in a lead container, deep down. It looks like only two people have handled these coins. The person who made them and the person who buried them,” club leader Pete Welch told the Daily Record. Archaeologist Ros Tyrrell was called in to help excavate the 1,000-year-old coins. “When the coins have been properly identified and dated, we may be able to guess at why such a great treasure was buried,” added a spokesman from Bucks County Museum. REVIEW: The British Museum has unveiled a hoard of coins found by a metal detectorist who alerted an officer from the Portable Antiquities Scheme and assisted with the archaeological excavation. The hoard contains 186 coins, seven pieces of Viking jewelry, and 15 ingots. Some of the coins depict figures thought to represent King Alfred the Great of Wessex, who ruled from A.D. 871 to 899, and King Ceolwulf II of Mercia, who ruled from 874 to 879. Ceolwulf II has been largely forgotten by history, but the coins suggest that the two kings shared a powerful alliance as equals. “Here is a more complex political picture in the 870s which was deliberately misrepresented in the 890s after Alfred has taken over the whole of Ceolwulf’s kingdom,” Gareth Williams, curator of Early Medieval coinage at the British Museum, told The Telegraph. The coins were produced in both kings’ names, and in a number of different mints. “It sheds new light on a very poorly understood period in English history,” Williams said. REVIEW: In the year 410 A.D., the Western Roman Emperor Honorius replied to the city magistrates of Britannia, who had urgently requested help against invaders. Rome had no legions to spare; they would have to look to their own defense. The invaders included Germanic tribes from across the North Sea, a people we know as the Anglo-Saxons. Their language is the ancestor of Modern English. The pagan Anglo-Saxons came to raid and pillage but stayed to settle and rule. They established a shifting constellation of minor kingdoms that pushed the Christian Romano-Britons north and west. For the first two centuries the Anglo-Saxons issued no coinage, their modest fiscal needs being served by imported Frankish coins. At Sutton Hoo in Suffolk on the east coast, a king (possibly Rædwald, who ruled East Anglia c. 599 – c. 624) was buried with a rich treasure[2]--including a purse with 37 gold tremisses of the Frankish Merovingians, each one from a different mint. Perhaps it was a coin collection. In 595, Pope Gregory I sent monks led by Augustine[3] to the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Kent, where pagan King Æthelberht had married a Frankish Christian princess. Over the following decades, the Anglo-Saxons were converted to Christianity and Augustine became the first Archbishop of Canterbury and later a saint. The earliest Anglo-Saxon coins were imitations, or close copies, of gold tremisses that circulated across the English Channel in France. Since the 17th century, numismatists have called these rare coins “thrymsas”[4] but they were probably known as “shillings” (or scillingas) and represented the price of a cow or sheep. A handful of larger coins, copied from late Roman solidi, were probably struck as royal gifts for special occasions. A hoard buried before 650 and discovered in 1828 at Crondall in Hampshire contained 73 diverse thrymsas, now in the Ashmolean Museum of Oxford University. Many have a crude bust on the obverse and a cross, surrounded by the name of a moneyer (such as WITMEN) on the reverse. “Moneyers” were private contractors, possibly goldsmiths, who produced coins on order for a king or bishop. Some thrymsas were struck at Canterbury, others at London. A few are known from York. “Post-Crondall” thrymsas date from after 650; one common type is the “two emperors” reverse, derived from the imagery on a fourth century gold solidus of Magnus Maximus, the last Roman coin struck in Britain. The rare “Crispus” type imitates the coin portrait of one of Constantine the Great’s sons, but in an abstract local style where the details of the helmet and crest are transformed into an elaborate hair style. Thrymsas became more and more debased over time, until they were just silver coins with a trace of gold. About the year 680 gold disappears from the coinage. The silver coins that continued to be struck were probably called “penningas”, but thanks to one of those historical misunderstandings so common in numismatics, they are known today by a different Anglo-Saxon word: sceat, or sceatta, which means “wealth” or “treasure.” The so-called “primary sceattas” were struck for a period of about 25 years (c. 675-700). Thick coins, 12 – 13 mm in diameter, they weigh from 1.0 to 1.3 grams and are nearly pure silver (90-95%). Twenty grains of barley from the middle of the ear weigh almost exactly 1.3 grams, and this may have been the theoretical standard. The obverse design is typically a crude bust, with a few letters or runes of a fragmentary or garbled pseudo-inscription. A common reverse is derived from a “vexillum” – a Roman military standard or flag commonly depicted on fourth century coins. Another reverse type shows a bird atop a cross. One of the most common types is the “porcupine” – a whimsical description of the simple abstract obverse design, which may have started out as a bust (with the “quills” representing hair brushed back) or as a depiction of a wolf (with the “quills” representing the bristling hair on the beast’s arched back.) Hoard evidence suggests that many of these coins were struck across the North Sea in Frisia (now part of the Netherlands and northern Germany), where the Frisians spoke a language closely related to Anglo-Saxon. There was extensive trade between Britain and the continent, and the silver used in Anglo-Saxon coins probably came from the rich mines of Melle[5] (about 400 km southwest of Paris, France). Beginning about 710, the sceattas show an extraordinary proliferation of creative original designs (as opposed to imitations of ancient Roman coins). Some of these recall the style of Britain’s pre-Roman Celtic coinage, and might have been inspired by accidental finds of such coins. Over 150 different designs are known, identified by a rather complex system of lettered “series” and numbered “types”[6]. We see human heads and standing figures, stylized animals and birds, and geometric patterns--especially variations of the Christian cross. What we don’t generally see are inscriptions that might identify the ruler, the date, the kingdom or the mint of origin; these have to be inferred through numismatic detective work: analysis of style, hoard composition and distribution of find spots. The weight of these “Secondary sceattas” declines to a gram or less and the alloy is gradually debased from 60 – 80% silver to only about 20%. In the complex geo-politics of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, Mercia[7], occupying a central position in the English Midlands, rose to a dominant position under King Offa (ruled 757-796). Strongly influenced by classical prototypes, Offa’s coinage went through many changes during his long reign. His portrait coins, struck after 780, show him wearing an ancient diadem and give his title in Latin: “Rex” (king). He also struck rare portrait coins honoring his queen, Cynethryth--one of the few women to appear on a coin during the middle ages. One of the most remarkable coins in the vast British Museum collection is a unique gold “dinar” struck in the name of Offa. It imitates the coinage of the Abbasid Caliph al-Mansur, who ruled in Baghdad from 754 to 775. It weighs 4.28 grams and is 20 mm in diameter. In the middle of the slightly blundered Arabic text on the obverse, “OFFA REX” is inscribed upside down, presumably because the engraver was unfamiliar with Arabic. “The purpose of the coin is uncertain. It has been suggested that it was made as a gift for the pope (it was first recorded in Rome), but it is unlikely that any Christian king would have sent the pope a coin with and inscription stating that 'there is no God but Allah alone'... It is more likely that it was designed for use in trade; Islamic gold dinars were the most important coinage in the Mediterranean at the time. Offa's coin looked enough like the original that it would be readily accepted in southern Europe, while at the same time his own name was clearly visible.” In 796, Offa was succeeded by his son Ecgfrith, who soon died, and Coenwulf came to the throne of Mercia. In 2001, a metal detector hobbyist out walking with his dog found a gold coin of Coenwulf a few centimeters beneath a footpath in Bedfordshire. Almost Mint State, the type was previously unknown. In fact, only seven English gold coins were previously known from this period, this being the eighth. Five years later the piece was purchased by the British Museum for £357,832 (in 2015 that would be approximately US$544,513). The obverse image closely follows late Roman imperial coin portraiture. The Latin reverse inscription, DE VICO LUNDONIAE, surrounding an eight-petaled flower, translates “from the trading post of London.” Weighing 4.33 grams, 20 mm in diameter and about 85% gold, the coin’s denomination is a mancus, from the Arabic manqush, a fractional unit of weight. This was probably a presentation piece, intended to rival a similar issue of the contemporary Frankish ruler, Charlemagne. Anglo-Saxon coinage continued in England until the last Saxon king, Harold Godwinson, was killed in battle at Hastings in 1066. As you might expect, Anglo-Saxon coins are mainly found in England, although hoards have been found in Scandinavia, Russia, and even Italy (carried by Christian pilgrims to Rome). They usually appear first in the inventory of major British dealers and auction houses. The growing popularity of metal-detecting as a legal hobby in the UK means that new discoveries are continually being made, such as a spectacular recent hoard of five thousand tenth and eleventh century silver pennies. Gold thrymsas are quite rare and sell for thousands of US dollars when they appear on the market. An important modern sale was the Subjack collection (121 lots) sold by Italo Vecchi in London in 1998. Silver sceattas and pennies range from common to scarce, and except for the greatest rarities or most superb specimens, typically go for a few hundred dollars. REVIEW: A gold Anglo-Saxon coin lost 1,200 years ago on a river bank in Bedfordshire became the most expensive British coin when it was bought by the British Museum for £357,832 (over a half million dollars). A little smaller than a pound coin in diameter and much thinner, the glittering mancus, the value of 30 days' wages for a skilled Anglo-Saxon worker, now ranks among the museum's most valuable artefacts. Experts described the coin as "the find of the last 100 years". Made from more than 85 per cent gold, weighing 4.33g and showing almost no sign of wear, the coin was struck in 805-810 during the reign of Coenwulf, the King of Mercia, East Anglia and Kent, the most powerful ruler in Britain at the time and a significant figure in the gradual unification of England. The coin carries his name, title and an image of him and, on the reverse, the intriguing inscription DE VICO LVNDONIAE (From the trading place of London). Besides being in almost perfect condition, it's significance, says the museum, is that it is the earliest gold coin in the name of an English ruler intended as part of a circulating currency. Many dozen Anglo-Saxon silver pennies have been unearthed but the Coenwulf mancus is only the eighth British gold coin - the museum now owns seven of them - cast between 670 and 1257 to be found. Earlier gold examples, including one from the reign of Offa, Coenwulf's predecessor as ruler of Mercia, were ceremonial coins. Little is known about Anglo-Saxon coinage - and less still about Coenwulf who ruled Mercia from 796 to 821. But despite the enormous value of the coin, Gareth Williams, the museum's Anglo-Saxon coin curator, said yesterday that he was convinced that it was used as currency because of the unexpected inscription. Coenwulf was, like rulers before and after him, in thrall to the language and culture of the Romans who had left Britain three centuries earlier. His decision to use the word vicus, meaning a trading centre, on the coin rather than civitas, the city seat of authority, is a strong indication that the coin was for trading. The mancus was found several inches below a footpath on the bank of the Ivel near Biggleswade in 2001 by a metal detector enthusiast out walking with his dog. But how the coin came to be there is anybody's guess. "It would have been a grievous loss," said Mr Williams. A recent dig near the river - not yet written up by archaeologists - has unearthed the remains of an Anglo-Saxon market place which may have been the destination of whoever lost the coin. The image of Coenwulf, a bloodthirsty figure who stole the throne from Offa's son and then invaded East Anglia and Kent to create an empire stretching from the South Coast to the Welsh borders and the Humber, is not likely to be a good likeness, said Mr Williams. "The rulers of the time chose to make themselves look like Roman emperors." He went on: "It may be very expensive but it is an absolutely top discovery. It is beautifully preserved. It has no wear or tear and must have been freshly struck when it was lost. It's condition is so exceptional that we were suspicious at first. We had to test it quite thoroughly before we were convinced." REVIEW: "The Cuerdale Hoard", written by Gareth Williams. The Cuerdale Hoard is the greatest Viking silver treasure trove ever found, outside Russia, far exceeding in scale and range any hoard found in the Scandinavian homelands or in the western areas of Viking settlement. Containing around 8,600 items of silver coins and bullion when found, and weighing some 40kg, it is an astonishing assemblage, as impressive even in its slightly depleted form today as it must have been when it was first put together in the early tenth century. It was found on 15 May 1840, by workmen engaged in repairing the embankment on the south side of the River Ribble at Cuerdale, near Preston, Lancashire. The hoard had been buried in a lead chest, fragments of which survive, and the presence of small bone pins suggests that some of the coins or bullion had been parceled up into separate bags or parcels, secured by these pins. Prompt action by the landowner's bailiff ensured that almost all the hoard was retrieved; the laborers were allowed to retain one coin each for themselves. It was declared Treasure Trove at an inquest on 15 August 1840, the property of Queen Victoria in right of her Duchy of Lancaster; the Duchy then passed it to the British Museum for examination prior to its distribution to over 170 recipients. The lion's share, however, was allocated to the British Museum. The coins found with the hoard reveal that it must have been buried in the years between 905 and 910, shortly after the expulsion of the Vikings from Dublin in 902. The Ribble Valley, a peaceful backwater today, was then the main route between Viking York and the Irish Sea; this fact, together with the Irish Norse origins of much of the bullion, and the presence of newly minted coins made by the York Vikings, have led scholars to suggest that this massive treasure may have been a war chest, assembled by Irish Norse exiles intending to mount an expeditionary force to reoccupy Dublin from a base on the Ribble estuary. It is often assumed that hoards from the Viking Age were buried in times of danger, and not recovered because the person who had hidden the hoard was killed, captured or forced to flee. This is probably a good explanation for many hoards, and the threat of Viking raids was itself sufficient to make many people hide their treasures. However, there are other possible reasons why treasure might be hidden and not recovered. One is that the treasure was buried for religious reasons. It is said that pagans in the Viking Age believed that a man would have the use in the afterlife of any treasure he buried while still alive. However, this story was written down long after the Christianization of Scandinavia, and it is not known whether it is true. Another possibility is that hoarding might be linked with the display of wealth and power. If a leader wished to appear generous and successful, he needed to be able to hand out silver to his followers. This would mean stockpiling silver ready for handouts, and even without a specific threat, it would be important to keep the silver safe until it was given out. If a leader wished to appear generous and successful, he needed to be able to hand out silver to his followers. An even more dramatic display of wealth would be to remove the silver from circulation permanently, by burying it. In Egil's saga, the hero Egil Skallagrimsson does precisely that, hiding his hoard to provide a permanent talking point for others. That sort of ostentatious destruction of wealth finds parallels in many cultures. Some of these possibilities can probably be excluded in the case of Cuerdale. The hoard contains both quite freshly minted Christian coins from the Danelaw, and ingots marked with a cross. This suggests that the hoard is unlikely to have been buried for religious reasons, while its huge size makes it unlikely that it was symbolically removed from circulation. However, the fact that the hoard contains identifiable parcels, acquired at different times and places, would be consistent with a carefully hidden stockpile which was added to gradually, as well as with a single hoard buried because of a sudden crisis. The Cuerdale hoard contains over 7,000 coins. Between them they demonstrate very clearly the international scale of Viking activity, as well as providing evidence for the dating of the hoard. Not surprisingly, most of the coins come from England, both official Anglo-Saxon issues (about 1,000) and coins of the Danelaw (about 5,000). However, the hoard also contained about 1,000 Frankish coins, a handful of early Scandinavian coins, about 50 Kufic dirhams from all over the Islamic world, a few imitations of Kufic coins from eastern Europe, and a single Byzantine coin. It is likely that the Scandinavian, Byzantine, Kufic and imitation Kufic coins all came to Britain from Scandinavia, reflecting the Vikings' links to the east through the Russian river systems. The Frankish coins reflect multiple raids on the continent. One group contains coins of the so-called Middle Kingdom, which stretched from the modern Netherlands down into northern Italy. Such coins were probably acquired from raids on the Netherlands, where the port of Dorestad was a repeated target. The date and condition of these coins suggest they were acquired on at least two occasions. The same is true of the much larger group of coins acquired in raids on what is now western France. The English material also suggests a variety of sources. The condition of the Anglo-Saxon coins suggests that they came in a steady trickle rather than all being acquired at the same time, and this probably reflects ongoing trade as much as raiding. By contrast, the coinage from the southern Danelaw seems to have come north in distinct groups, one of which had only recently been struck when the hoard was deposited. Finally, the local coinage of Viking Northumbria, the largest single group in the hoard, shows some variation of wear, but all the coins were relatively new. This suggests that these issues were circulating locally, and that the hoard was buried only a few years after this coinage was first introduced. Our knowledge of the dating of the Danelaw issues largely derives from the hoard, rather than the other way round, but the Anglo-Saxon, Frankish and Kufic coins all point consistently to a date between AD 905 and AD 910. The bulk of the hoard, weight-wise, was bullion - weighing over 36kg (80lb). Some of this had been melted down into ingots of various shapes and weights; much of the rest consists of silver jewelry, and other items that had been chopped up into small pieces designed for the melting pot or for sharing out as payments. The very varied nature of this so-called hack-silver testifies to the mobility and far-ranging contacts of the Vikings. Much of it is of Norse Irish origin, including distinctive stamped arm-ring types, both whole and chopped up, and fragments of spectacular bossed penannular brooches and thistle brooches; such large and imposing items of personal jewelry were portable wealth as well as functional and decorative attachments. Alongside these relatively local products, however, were more exotic items, matching the coins in the hoard in their range and diversity. Arm-rings and neck-rings of different types from Scandinavia are present in some quantity, as one might expect; but there are also fragments of so-called Permian rings, from the eastern Baltic, as well as some Slav beads. From western Europe comes a very fine gilded Carolingian buckle, along with brooch fragments and a decorative mount - testimony no doubt to the well-attested Viking raids on France. The northerly reach of Viking enterprise is seen in a decorated silver sheet and a fragment of a silver comb, both apparently of Pictish origin. Perhaps the greatest surprise, however, is that among all this vast assemblage there are only two items of Anglo-Saxon origin - a fine strap-end and a tiny mount - to set against the total of over 1,000 Anglo-Saxon coins in the hoard. These different elements came together in the hoard from many separate parcels, accumulated over time and across distances; but they are a graphic witness both to the boldly ranging scope of Viking activity, and to the enormous wealth it generated. REVIEW: The Britons began making coins from about 100BC, in imitation of Roman practice. They were made mainly in the West Country or the Thames Valley. This practice was stopped by the Romans when Britain became part of the Empire, and only imported Roman coinage was allowed. Roman coins were not minted again in Britain until 155AD, but once begun, this process continued until the late 300’s, when the Roman Empire began to disintegrate. In the early Anglo-Saxon period, where coins were used at all, they were gold pieces from the continent – the ‘solidus’ weighing a hefty 4 grams, or a piece one third of its value, called the ‘tremissis’. Because of their high value, they were fairly useless for everyday transactions, and were in any case prized more as jewellery or as gifts than as currency. It was more than two centuries later, around the 620’s, before the Anglo-Saxons began minting gold coins of their own, called ‘thrymsas’, which echoed the Latin ‘tremissis’. These were probably the ancestors of ‘shillings’. The designs were often imitations of Roman ones, with lettering sometimes malformed or not even making sense! Towards the end of the 600’s, the gold currency disappeared, to be replaced by a coinage of pure silver. The new coins were called ‘sceattas’, but it wasn’t until the 760’s that a new ‘penny’ coinage began, first in Mercia, then in Kent, with twelve to a shilling. They probably represented about a day’s pay for a skilled worker, so most everyday transactions were no doubt still made by barter, payment in kind, or by exchange of favors. ‘Sceattas’ gradually disappeared from the scene, except in Northumbria, where they continued to be made in ever more debased silver. Eventually, they were struck in bronze or brass, before disappearing altogether. These pieces were called ‘stycas’. Coins were all generally tiny – no bigger than a fingernail – but in the later period nearly doubled in size. The first halfpennies were made in the 880’s, but after 973, when King Edgar reformed the currency, units smaller than a penny were made simply by cutting a coin into two or even four (‘farthings’). Coins were struck with a die at royal mints by ‘moneyers’, who could stamp more than 2000 blanks a day in a workshop. The dies were at first made locally, later on only under the king’s supervision, and later still at just five regional centres. The most important mints were in the south-east, where the inward flow of foreign bullion and coined silver. was greatest. By the close of the Anglo-Saxon period, however, the number of mints had grown again to over ninety, with many of them now in the north. The tradition of showing the king’s head on one side (the ‘obverse’) grew up towards the end of the period. The moneyer sat at a tree-stump with the lower part of the steel die set into it. The coin blank, still warm, was placed on the lower die, and the upper die placed over the blank. He then struck the upper die with a hammer and made the coin. Blanks may have been made from clay moulds, cut from thin silver sheet, or more probably punched out. Occasionally, valuable gold coins called ‘mancuses’ were minted, worth thirty pence. This represented a month’saethelstan penny, both sides wages, so they could not have been in very common circulation! Tens of millions of silver pennies, however, were struck during the Anglo-Saxon period. After King Edgar’s reforms, foreign coin had by law to be melted down and re-struck, and even English coins had to be traded in for re-striking every six years or so. The circulation of money was becoming ever more tightly-controlled and sophisticated. After the 990’s, millions of English pennies were sent as ‘Danegeld’ to Scandinavia – the price paid for the Vikings’ oft-repeated promises not to continue their raids. A ‘pound’ in currency was simply a (Troy) pound weight of silver – and the Vikings demanded several thousand pounds each time a deal was struck. By 1066, the Anglo-Saxon currency system was so uniquely efficient and well-established, that although the Normans wrought many profound changes in the land they conquered, they saw no need to change anything where money was concerned. An Anglo-Saxon might be very puzzled by modern paper money or plastic cards but he would recognize the pennies in your pocket without any problem at all! REVIEW: When the Romans left, just after AD400, coins stopped being made. The early Anglo-Saxons did not use coins, but they did re-use some Roman coins. Some coins were brought over from the Continent, from places like France. Coins like this were found in the Sutton Hoo burial. During the seventh century (AD600-699) the Anglo-Saxons started to make their own coins. Kings wanted coins to show their importance and wealth, to use in trade, and because mints were profitable. In this early period coins were made of gold and were very valuable so they were not used for everyday transactions. Most people used barter, which involved exchanging goods rather than coins. Coins began to be more widely used during the eighth century (AD700-799), especially in southern and eastern England. Each kingdom had its own coins with their own king's head on those coins. A trader who was traveling between kingdoms would need to change their coins into the local currency - just as people do today when they travel aboard. Over time as there were fewer and fewer kingdoms there were less types of coins but more mints producing coins. Thus there were more coins in circulation. Coins started to be made of silver instead of gold. The earliest Anglo-Saxon coins were used by rich and important people as gifts, to buy land, to pay fines and taxes and for long distance trade. During the later ninth to eleventh centuries (AD850-AD1066) coins became more common. Therefore more people could use them to buy objects. Today we have coins with lots of different values but the Anglo-Saxons did not have as many types of coins with different values. So to reduce the value of a coin they would cut it in half or in quarters. For example, if a coin was worth one penny but they wanted to buy something worth half a penny then they would cut a penny coin in half and use half the coin. Archaeologists often find these cut coins. REVIEW: The British Museum today unveils the most expensive coin in history. The ninth-century coin depicts Coenwulf, the ruler of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Mercia from 796 to 821, and it is thought to be the oldest example of gold currency commemorating a British ruler - which helps to explain why the museum paid £357,832 to the anonymous person who found it near Bedford in 2001. "It's completely unprecedented," says Gareth Williams, the museum's curator of early medieval coinage. "The most expensive single British coin before this was a gold penny of Henry III, which went for something like £145,000." To put the find in context, there are only eight known English coins dated between 700 and 1250. This is the first to be found for more than 50 years. Williams is particularly excited by the wording on the back of the coin, "De Vico Lvondoniae", meaning "From the trading place of London". "London is referred to as a vicus, part of Ludenwic and a centre of authority and it is striking that Coenwulf chooses to describe it in that way," says Williams. "I think he is imitating a coin of his contemporary, the Frankish emperor Charlemagne, who was the most powerful ruler in Europe. Coenwulf is basically saying, 'I'm as good as Charlemagne and London's as good as Dorestadt.' He's promoting London on an international trade coinage as a major trading centre." Many ancient coins carry messages. Among the selection of notable British finds pictured is one found in Oxfordshire in 2003 that depicts Domitanius, a Roman emperor neglected by history. His coin informs us that he ruled Gaul and Britain in 271, as leader of the breakaway "Gallic" empire. Another, a King Alfred silver penny from c880, is, like the Coenwulf coin, a piece of Londoncentrism, intended to mark the Anglo-Saxons' recapture of the city from the Vikings. The odd monogram on one side makes up the letters "Lvndonia". The museum also owns the earliest surviving English halfpenny, but it only cost a few thousand pounds. Why was the Coenwulf coin so much more expensive? "It's one of the most beautiful Anglo-Saxon coins anyone has ever seen. The halfpenny was historically interesting but it's small and grotty and silver. This one is gold and went into the ground in something close to mint condition, so it's a very collectable coin." REVIEW: A hoard of Viking silver, jewelry and Saxon coins was discovered by a metal detectorist in a field in Oxfordshire. The ‘significant’ treasure trove of 186 coins, ingots and jewellery was uncovered by amateur treasure-hunter James Mather, in a farmer’s field near Watlington in October. The find should shed some light on the period of Anglo Saxon history that saw King Alfred the Great of Wessex defeat the Viking Danes, and then go on to banish his one-time ally, King Ceolwulf II of Mercia, from history. The Daily Mail reports: More than 200 pieces of silver including Viking coins, ingots and jewellery dating back to the 870s AD have been unveiled at the British Museum in London. The treasure is thought to have been buried at the end of the century, in the period following Alfred the Great of Wessex’s defeat of the Vikings at Edington in Wiltshire. The ‘nationally significant’ artefacts were unearthed by a metal detectorist near Watlington, Oxfordshire, in October last year and reveal clues as to how Alfred the Great of Wessex and King Ceolwulf II of Mercia may have co-operated to battle the invaders. James Mather, 60, had been hunting for treasure for five hours and was about to go home when he chanced upon the cache of valuable Viking items. Some of the coins were minted during the reign of Alfred the Great, ruler of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Wessex from 871 and 899 AD and others are said to have been minted for King Ceolwulf II of Mercia, who ruled between 874 and 879 AD. At this time, England was split into kingdoms. Alfred the Great ruled Wessex which covered the west and majority of south England, excluding Cornwall, while Mercia was ruled by King Ceolwulf II and covered the River Trent and the Midlands. Three types of penny were found that were issued in Ceolwulf’s name and were designed in the ‘Cross and Lozenge’ style, also used by King Alfred. Due to the fact the reigns of these rulers overlapped, and that King Ceolwulf’s coinage is similar in style and design to that of Alfred of Wessex, it has been suggested the two teamed up to fight against the Vikings.viking silver Elsewhere, seven pieces of Viking jewellery including and 15 ingots were also found. Academics from the British Museum and the Ashmolean in Oxford believe the hoard was buried around the end of the 870s, in the period following Alfred’s decisive defeat of the Vikings at Edington in 878. At the Battle of Edington, King Alfred’s army is reported as defeating what was called the ‘Great Heathen Army’, led by Guthrum in May 878 AD. Four years previously, historical reports claim Mercia and its army had collapsed. Guthrum made several attacks on Wessex from 875, and by early 878, his army occupied parts of the east and north east of England. In Spring 878 AD, King Alfred marched to Edginton with West Saxon soldiers to take on Guthrum. The West Saxon troops won the battle and King Alfred cut off supplies to Guthrum’s army who had taken refuge in Chippenham. The Vikings asked King Alfred for a truce, which was granted as long as they left his kingdom immediately, and later became known as the Peace of Wedmore. In particular, the experts believe the Viking treasure was buried when the Vikings moved north of the Thames and Guthrum returned to East Anglia where he was converted to Christianity with Alfred as his sponsor. Nearly all of the objects come from the time of the ‘Last Kingdom’ when the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of Mercia and Wessex were fighting for their survival from the threat of the Great Heathen Army. The fight ultimately led to the unification of England and its kingdoms. Viking silver casts light on the era of King Alfred the Great, according to the Guardian: Alfred the cake burner and Viking beater is one of the most famous kings in British history, but poor Ceolwulf is only known from a list that says he reigned for five years. His fate is unknown, and the only accounts of his character come from Alfred’s side – after the victorious Alfred also annexed Mercia – describing him as foolish and a puppet of the Vikings. The newly found coins cover several years and were struck in different mints, demolishing the earlier belief that the two kings issued coins in only one year, marking a very short-lived alliance. Gareth Williams, curator of early medieval coinage at the British Museum said: “This is not just another big shiny hoard.” He said it was evidence about a poorly understood time in the development of England. Even the scrap of gold, chopped up to use as currency by weight, shows the emergence of a gold standard. The coins, he said, offered insight into a coalition that broke up acrimoniously after a few years, leading to one partner disappearing without trace. “They give a more complex political picture of a period which has been deliberately misrepresented by the victor.” He added, diplomatically, that the relationship of Stalin and Trotsky came to mind. Mather, a hobby metal detectorist for more than 20 years, had had a long dull day of uncovering metal ring pulls and cartridge cases and was ready to head home when he found what he thought might be a Viking silver ingot, similar to one he had seen in the British Museum. He dug a nine-inch hole revealing a great mass of coins, he recalled. He phoned the local officer who records finds under the portable antiquities scheme, which tracks the discovery of small archaeological objects, many less commercially but equally historically valuable. Then, heroically obeying orders, he filled in the hole again. He admitted he made many anxious return visits over the weekend to check the field was still undisturbed. The following Tuesday the finds officer, David Williams, sent the farmer to buy some clingfilm – “the best quality clingfilm,” he specified – and carefully excavated down to expose the hoard, and lifted the whole block of clay holding the silver. It was supported on an oven tray, also borrowed from the farmer, and brought to London in a suitcase. “That’s when I discovered that they don’t like it at the British Museum when you wheel a piece of luggage through the galleries – even if you assure them it contains a Viking hoard,” Williams said. REVIEW: Coins were introduced as a method of payment around the 6th or 5th century B.C. The invention of coins is still shrouded in mystery: According to Herdotous (I, 94), coins were first minted by the Lydians, while Aristotle claims that the first coins were minted by Demodike of Kyrme, the wife of King Midas of Phrygia. Numismatists consider that the first coins were minted on the Greek island of Aegina, either by the local rulers or by king Pheidon of Argos. Aegina, Samos, and Miletus all minted coins for the Egyptians, through the Greek trading post of Naucratis in the Nile Delta. It is certain that when Lydia was conquered by the Persians in 546 B.C., coins were introduced to Persia. The Phoenicians did not mint any coins until the middle of the fifth century B.C., which quickly spread to the Carthaginians who minted coins in Sicily. The Romans only started minting coins from 326 B.C. Coins were brought to India through the Achaemenid Empire, as well as the successor kingdoms of Alexander the Great. Especially the Indo-Greek kingdoms minted (often bilingual) coins in the 2nd century B.C. The most beautiful coins of the classical age are said to have been minted by Samudragupta (335-376 CE), who portrayed himself as both conqueror and musician. The first coins were made of electrum, an alloy of silver and gold. It appears that many early Lydian coins were minted by merchants as tokens to be used in trade transactions. The Lydian state also minted coins, most of the coins mentioning king Alyattes of Lydia. Some Lydian coins have a so-called legend, a sort of dedication. One famous example found in Caria reads "I am the badge of Phanes" - it is still unclear who Phanes was. In China, gold coins were first standardized during the Qin dynasty (221-207 B.C.). After the fall of the Qin dynasty, the Han emperors added two other legal tenders: silver coins and "deerskin notes", a predecessor of paper currency which was a Chinese invention. [Ancient History Encyclopedia]. I always ship books Media Mail in a padded mailer. This book is shipped FOR FREE via USPS INSURED media mail (“book rate”). All domestic shipments and most international shipments will include free USPS Delivery Confirmation (you might be able to update the status of your shipment on-line at the USPS Web Site) and free insurance coverage. A small percentage of international shipments may require an additional fee for tracking and/or delivery confirmation. If you are concerned about a little wear and tear to the book in transit, I would suggest a boxed shipment - it is an extra $1.00. Whether via padded mailer or box, we will give discounts for multiple purchases. International orders are welcome, but shipping costs are substantially higher. Most international orders cost an additional $9.99 to $37.99 for an insured shipment in a heavily padded mailer, and typically includes some form of rudimentary tracking and/or delivery confirmation (though for some countries, this is only available at additional cost). There is also a discount program which can cut postage costs by 50% to 75% if you’re buying about half-a-dozen books or more (5 kilos+). Rates and available services vary a bit from country to country. You can email or message me for a shipping cost quote, but I assure you they are as reasonable as USPS rates allow, and if it turns out the rate is too high for your pocketbook, we will cancel the sale at your request. ADDITIONAL PURCHASES do receive a VERY LARGE discount, typically about $5 per book (for each additional book after the first) so as to reward you for the economies of combined shipping/insurance costs. Your purchase will ordinarily be shipped within 48 hours of payment. We package as well as anyone in the business, with lots of protective padding and containers. All of our shipments are sent via insured mail so as to comply with PayPal requirements. We do NOT recommend uninsured shipments, and expressly disclaim any responsibility for the loss of an uninsured shipment. Unfortunately the contents of parcels are easily “lost” or misdelivered by postal employees – even in the USA. That’s why all of our domestic shipments (and most international) shipments include a USPS delivery confirmation tag; or are trackable or traceable, and all shipments (international and domestic) are insured. We do offer U.S. Postal Service Priority Mail, Registered Mail, and Express Mail for both international and domestic shipments, as well United Parcel Service (UPS) and Federal Express (Fed-Ex). Please ask for a rate quotation. We will accept whatever payment method you are most comfortable with. If upon receipt of the item you are disappointed for any reason whatever, I offer a no questions asked return policy. Send it back, I will give you a complete refund of the purchase price (less our original shipping costs). Most of the items I offer come from the collection of a family friend who was active in the field of Archaeology for over forty years. However many of the items also come from purchases I make in Eastern Europe, India, and from the Levant (Eastern Mediterranean/Near East) from various institutions and dealers. Though I have always had an interest in archaeology, my own academic background was in sociology and cultural anthropology. After my retirement however, I found myself drawn to archaeology as well. Aside from my own personal collection, I have made extensive and frequent additions of my own via purchases on Ebay (of course), as well as many purchases from both dealers and institutions throughout the world - but especially in the Near East and in Eastern Europe. I spend over half of my year out of the United States, and have spent much of my life either in India or Eastern Europe. In fact much of what we generate on Yahoo, Amazon and Ebay goes to support The Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, as well as some other worthy institutions in Europe connected with Anthropology and Archaeology. I acquire some small but interesting collections overseas from time-to-time, and have as well some duplicate items within my own collection which I occasionally decide to part with. Though I have a collection of ancient coins numbering in the tens of thousands, my primary interest is in ancient jewelry. My wife also is an active participant in the "business" of antique and ancient jewelry, and is from Russia. I would be happy to provide you with a certificate/guarantee of authenticity for any item you purchase from me. There is a $2 fee for mailing under separate cover. Whenever I am overseas I have made arrangements for purchases to be shipped out via domestic mail. If I am in the field, you may have to wait for a week or two for a COA to arrive via international air mail. But you can be sure your purchase will arrive properly packaged and promptly - even if I am absent. And when I am in a remote field location with merely a notebook computer, at times I am not able to access my email for a day or two, so be patient, I will always respond to every email. Please see our "ADDITIONAL TERMS OF SALE." Condition: NEW. See detailed condition description below., Size: 8¼ x 8¼ inches; ½ pound., Country/Region of Manufacture: United Kingdom, Format: Sofcover, Title: King Alfred's Coins, Publisher: Ashmolean Museum (2017), Length: 32 pages

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