Portuguese Coins - Newport Medieval Ship

Contributed by Newport Museum and Art Gallery

Four Portuguese coins, along with a jetton, found during the excavation in 2002. ©Newport Museum and Heritage Service

Jettons were counters used by merchants to aid in the addition and subtraction of money and merchandise.The Newport Medieval Ship is the largest, most complete and best preserved medieval vessel ever excavated in the United Kingdom.
This unique ship is currently being conserved and studied by archaeologists in an effort to unlock the secrets of its construction and use.
These coins were found during the initial excavation of the ship in 2002. It was discovered in the muddy bank of the River Usk right in the middle of Newport when the Riverfront Theatre and Arts Centre was being built. Archaeologists found the coins inside the hull, where they might have been lost by the ship's crew and become trapped during the life of the ship. They are evidence of trading at this time between the Iberian Peninsula and south Wales.

The four coins are all base-metal Portuguese issues of the fifteenth century, struck at Lisbon: one copper real preto of Duarte I (1433-8) and three ceitils of Afonso V (1438-81). The ceitil was a copper coin introduced in the reign of João I (d. 1433), produced in very large numbers under Afonso V. Although Ceitils had no formal place in the currency of England and Wales, they are found widely in south Wales and appear occasionally in south-western England.

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  • 1 comment
  • 1. At 09:11 on 15 March 2010, MarchesTV wrote:

    There are several 'old' families around Mid and South Wales that seem to have Portuguese origins (Gittoes). I always thought that maybe these were a result of Portuguese mercenaries being shipwrecked with the Spanish Armada, but perhaps it was older still and a result of trading?

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