Wednesday, 7 October 2020

(Old) Buckenham  Castle

This is a medieval silver penny, which was deliberately cut in two to make a half penny (ha’penny).  They were also cut pennies into four if required, to make fourthings (farthings).  This is a composite photo, so you can see both sides of the half coin side by side and the coin itself measures only 18mm along the cut edge. Specifically, it's a coin produced during the 'new coinage' commissioned by Henry lll in 1247.  It was found recently by our local metal detectorist Godfrey Pratt. These coins continued to be minted until Henry's death in 1272, so the coin in the photo can be dated to within this twenty-five year period.  If you look carefully you can see half the King's crown, half of his nose, one eye, his curly hair, and his mace.

The mid-thirteenth century was a turbulent period in English history, with frequent confrontations between the King and his supporters on the one hand, and the landholding Barons on the other.  The D'Albini family of Buckenam had been in Royal service at court since the time of William the Conqueror, and were staunch supporters of Henry lll.  Things came to a head in 1263 with the Second Barons Revolt, and in that year Buckenham Castle was besieged by an army under Henry De Hastyngs, one of the leading revolting barons.

Such were the defences of the castle that the siege failed.  Since the coin shown was found within besieging distance of the castle,  Godfrey is romantically inclined to think it was there at the time, in the purse of a besieging soldier before being accidentally dropped and lost from sight for over 750 years until he picked it up... 

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