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18 September 2014
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Anglo Saxon Coins

A silver penny from the reign of Alfred, King of Wessex 871-899. Minted in London around 880
A silver penny from the reign of Alfred, King of Wessex 871-899. Minted in London around 880. Obverse (left) reverse (right)
The inscription

ÆLFR / EDREX ('King Alfred') and, on the reverse, LVNDONIA (monogram for 'London').

The 'monogram' type of coin

The large monogram on this coin spells out the name LVNDONIA. In the 8th and 9th centuries it was very unusual for coins to specify the place in which they were made.

This famous London monogram type was issued in the early 880s. It celebrates Alfred's assumption of control of Mercia after the demise of the last Mercian king, Ceolwulf II (874-879). Special named issues were also produced at two other Mercian towns, Oxford and Gloucester, stamping Alfred’s authority over them.

Alfred rebuilds London

Historians used to think that the Vikings were in control of London during most of the 870s and 880s. However, the coins provide decisive evidence that it remained a Mercian city and a flourishing emporium throughout.

In 886, Alfred restored and rebuilt parts of London, moving the focus of commercial and other activity into the refortified Roman city. This was part of his well-known policy of building a network of fortified boroughs to defend the kingdom against the threat of the Viking armies.

Currency reforms

As well as consolidating the country’s fortifications, Alfred also embarked on a parallel reform of the currency system. He established a series of new mints around the country so eventually every borough was entitled to have its own mint to help pay for the costs of running and defending the borough.

Coins timeline
First Viking attack on Holy Isle of Lindisfarne
Renewed Viking attacks
Harold II defeated by William the Conqueror - beginning of Norman Conquest

Click on each of these coins to find the tales they tell...

coin 1 -  A gold shilling from the reign of Eadbald, King of Kent 616-40. Minted in London around 630Silver penny minted in Kent (c 720)A silver penny from the reign of Offa, King of Mercia 757-796. Minted in London around 785A silver penny from the reign of Alfred, King of Wessex 871-899. Minted in London around 880A silver penny from the reign of Cnut, Viking King of York c.900-905. Minted at YorkA silver penny from the reign of Athelstan, King of England 924-939. Minted at Winchester around 930A silver penny from the reign of Cnut, King of Denmark and England 1016-1035. Minted at Exeter around 1023-29

Then play the Coins game
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Conquest of Wessex Kings
Viking Conquest
After Viking Conquest
Norman Conquest
After Norman Conquest
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