BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page was last updated in July 2006We've left it here for reference.More information

14 July 2014
Accessibility help
Text only
Conquest Trailbbc.co.uk/history

BBC Homepage

Contact Us

Like this page?
Send it to a friend!

 

Anglo Saxon Coins

A silver penny from the reign of Cnut, King of Denmark and England 1016-1035. Minted at Exeter (c 1023-29)
A silver penny from the reign of Cnut, King of Denmark and England 1016-1035. Minted at Exeter around 1023-29. Obverse (left) reverse (right)
The Inscription

CNVT / RECX A ('Cnut, King of England') and, on the reverse, EDSIE ON ECXÆEST ('Eadsie at Exeter' - the moneyer who authorised the minting of the coin).

Danish king - Anglo-Saxon coinage

Fifty years before the Norman Conquest in 1066, England was conquered by a Danish prince, Cnut, who later became King of Denmark and ruled the two kingdoms jointly.

The coinages in Scandinavia were far less developed than those in England, and it is a tribute to the Anglo-Saxon system of government and administration that Cnut adopted the existing arrangements for the coinage. Thus the same 50-60 mints continued to operate with similar personnel.

In this, his second coin type, Cnut is depicted wearing a pointed battle helmet, a design which had been experimented with by his predecessor Æthelred II (978-1016).

Final payments of Danegeld

In 1018, the last and largest tribute payment to the Scandinavians of £82,000 was paid.

It was intended to pay off the Scandinavian army, but there is no sign of this in the Scandinavian coin hoards. This suggests that Cnut may have kept much of it for his own royal treasury.

Recoinage system raises money for the crown

Although there are no documents to tell us how the monetary system operated, from the tens of thousands of late Anglo-Saxon coins that survive we have been able to build up a theory of the way coins were used.>

It seems that only coins of the current type could be used for official transactions, so that people had to take their old money to a mint or to an exchanger to change it for the new type.

The mint charged a fee for this, part of which went to the king. He therefore made a profit on each recoinage, and one could regard this as a kind of ancient wealth tax.

Coins timeline
783
First Viking attack on Holy Isle of Lindisfarne
980s
Renewed Viking attacks
1066
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
To play this interactive content you will need to install/update the free Flash plug-in. BBC WebWise has a step-by-step guide to help you.

Conquest
Conquest of Wessex Kings
Viking Conquest
After Viking Conquest
Norman Conquest
After Norman Conquest
enlarge image copyright




About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy