Welcome to the penny
The early 8th century was a golden age for coinage and coin designs. Silver imported from the Continent stimulated a dramatic growth in coin circulation and minting in England.
The silver penny (Old English 'pening') had replaced the gold shilling during the 670s. It was a small dumpy coin about the size of your small fingernail.
There was a great variety of coin designs. Religious themes were common following the conversion of England to Christianity.
On this coin a man is shown drinking from a chalice. It appears to be one of a group of images depicting the five senses: sight, taste, hearing, touch and smell - taste in this case. Note the elaborate loose knot in which the tie is done up behind the hair - an imaginative detail typical of Anglo-Saxon art.
On the other side a man is shown holding a bird on his arm and standing on a curved surface. The bird may be a falcon implying a noble person, or it may be a raven perching on St Oswald.
An everyday currency
The coins of this period rarely carry inscriptions. It is not clear the extent to which these were royal coinages. They have been found extensively in England, particularly in recent years with the wide use of metal detectors.
They seem to have been used by people very widely and for everyday transactions, unlike the previous gold coins.